This podcast focuses on rental housing and Fair Housing laws. You can listen to the podcast above, or read the full text below.
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The Fair Housing Act is a national law that says that landlords cannot discriminate against you on the basis of your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability, when you ask about rental housing, apply for it, live in it, or leave it. Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and disability are characteristics known as Protected Classes.
The Maine Human Rights Act is a state law that says that landlords cannot discriminate against you when you belong to a protected class, plus the law has added sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, ancestry, and receipt of public assistance to the list of Protected Classes.
Fair Housing laws prohibit treating protected classes differently in the terms, conditions and privileges of renting. For example, if you can afford to pay the rent, it is illegal for a housing provider to refuse to show or rent an apartment to you because you are an immigrant, or have children, or your doctor has prescribed an assistance animal for your disability.
Fair Housing laws prohibit saying things out loud or in written advertisements or signs that discourage Protected Classes from looking at or renting housing. They also prohibit refusing to allow changes to policies that people with disabilities need to live in rental housing. All people looking for, applying to, and living in rental housing should be treated the same as long as they can afford the rent.
Fair Housing laws don't apply to some housing and in certain situations though. Some housing that is exempt includes:
- Owner-occupied housing with four or fewer rental units.
- In Maine, owner-occupied housing with no more than two units.
- Housing for the elderly, which can limit the age of occupants.
- Religious organizations and private clubs, which can limit occupancy to members, as long as there is no discrimination based on race, color or national origin.
If you have questions about Fair Housing laws and exemptions, contact Pine Tree Legal to find out if we can help. For contact information go to www.ptla.org.
Or you can contact one of these offices directly:U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 10 Causeway Street, Room 321 Boston, MA 02222-1092 617-994-8300 or 1-800-827-5005 TTY: 1-617-565-5453
Maine Human Rights Commission 51 State House Station Augusta, Maine 04333-0051 207-624-6290 TTY: 1-888-577-6690
This podcast was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under a Fair Housing Initiatives Grant. The information provided does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HUD.