equal housing opportunity logo.gif

 “Equal opportunity in housing for all citizens regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability or familial status is one of America’s core principles.”

The Federal Fair Housing Act provides that in the rental and sale of most housing it is unlawful for any housing provider to take any of the following actions against a person because of his or her Race, Color, National origin, Religion, Sex, Familial status, and /or Disability.

South Carolina Legal Fair Housing Brochure:

Examples of Discriminatory Housing Practices Include:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing, negotiate for sale or rental, set different terms, conditions, privileges or deny a dwelling, because of a person’s protected status

  • Impose different sale prices or rental charges for a dwelling

  • Evict tenants because of their race or race of their guests

  • Delay or failure to perform maintenance or repairs to dwelling units

  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental

  • Advertise or make any statement with respect to the sale or rental of dwelling that indicates advertisement that states, “Two bedroom, two bath for rent, $600 a month, No Kids, Adults Only

  • Assign any person to a particular section of a complex or neighborhood or to a particular floor of a building because they are a member of one of the protected classes listed above

  • Discourage the purchase or rental of dwelling by exaggerating drawback or failing to inform any person of desirable features of a dwelling, community, neighborhood, or development.

  • Threaten, coerce, or intimidate anyone for exercising his/her fair housing rights or for assisting others in exercising their rights

Prohibitions Based on Disability:

  • Ask a tenant or applicant if he/she has a disability or inquire about the nature or severity of his/her disability

  • Refuse to permit a disabled tenant, at the tenant’s expense, to make reasonable modifications to existing premises if the proposed modification may be necessary to afford the disabled tenant full enjoyment of the premises of a dwelling

  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodation in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a disable person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit

  • Fail to design and construct covered multi-family apartment complexes that were built for first occupancy after March 23, 1991, so that they comply with the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements

  • Furthermore the Fair Housing Act provide that in mortgage lending, it is unlawful for any person to take the following actions against a person because of his or her race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability

Some Examples Discrimination in Lending Transactions:

  • Refuse to make a mortgage loan

  • Fail or refuse to provide the information regarding the availability of loans or other financial assistance, the application requirement, or the procedures/standards for the review and approval of loans or financial assistance

  • Provide information that is inaccurate or deferent from that provided others

  • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan

  • Discriminate in appraising property

  • Refuse to purchase a loan

  • Set different terms or condition for purchasing a loan

The Following Housing Circumstances have Limited Exemptions from the Law:

  • Owner-occupied 4-unit, or fewer buildings (Federal Law)

  • Rental or room in private home

  • Rental of rooms to persons of the same sex

  • Religious and private clubs reasonable occupancy limits housing for older persons (either 100% over age 62 or 80% age 55 & older)

If your case goes to an administrative hearing HUD attorneys will litigate the case on your behalf. You may intervene in the case and be represented by your own attorney if you wish. An Administrative Law Judge (ALA) will consider evidence from you and the respondent. If the ALA decides that discrimination occurred, the respondent can be ordered:

  • To compensate you for actual damages, including humiliation, pain and suffering

  • To provide injunctive or other equitable relief, for example, to make the housing available to you

  • To pay the Federal Government a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest. The maximum penalties are $10,000 for a first violation and $50,000 for a third violation within seven years

  • To pay reasonable attorney's fees and costs

Federal District Court

If you or the respondent chooses to have your case decided in Federal District Court, the Attorney General will file a suit and litigate it on your behalf. Like the ALA, the District Court can order relief, and award actual damages, attorney's fees and costs. In addition, the court can award punitive damages.

In Addition: You May File Suit: You may file suit, at your expense, in Federal District Court or State Court within two years of an alleged violation. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court may appoint one for you. You may bring suit even after filing a complaint, if you have not signed a conciliation agreement and an Administrative Law Judge has not started a hearing. A court may award actual and punitive damages and attorney's fees and costs.