The Requirements of the Fair Housing Act
When you are selling or renting real estate, there are a variety of state and federal laws with which you must comply. One of the most important laws that applies to real estate transactions is the Fair Housing Act.1 Specifically, this law prohibits property owners from engaging in unlawful discrimination when dealing with prospective buyers or tenants. Violations of this law can cause serious legal liability for property owners and you should always discuss any questions you may have about disallowed activities with an experienced Seattle real estate lawyer.
Who must comply with this law?
The Fair Housing Act applies to many different parties, including individuals or businesses doing the following:
- Renting a property
- Selling a property
- Offering lending services or financial help to renters or buyers of real estate
- Appraising real estate
- Brokering real estate transactions
- Working with or for real estate companies or organizations
What is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act?
It is unlawful to discriminate against any potential buyers or renters of real estate based on race, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or familial status. Washington state law2 additionally prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV/AIDS or hepatitis diagnosis, military status, and use of a service dog. The following activities are specifically disallowed:
- Expressing discrimination or limitations in advertisements for the property
- Lying about the availability of a unit to prevent certain tenants or owners
- Denial of certain tenants based on discriminatory reasons
- Terminate a tenant relationship due to discriminatory reasons
- Set different rental terms or conditions for members of certain groups
- Intimidate, coerce, or threaten individuals in regard to a real estate transaction
The penalties for violating the Fair Housing Act can be significant, so you do not even want suspicion to exist that you have engaged in any unlawful activities with respect to housing discrimination.
Seek assistance from an experienced Seattle real estate lawyer
The best way to prevent legal issues is to have the guidance of a skilled Seattle real estate lawyer throughout your real estate transaction. Call the Dickson Frohlich at 253-572-1000 for help today.