Consumer Corner - Regarding fair housing

Tue, 04/08/2008 - 1:28pm
By: The Citizen

Presented by the Fayette County Board of REALTORS
President, Dawn Scarbrough

April is Fair Housing Month. HUD will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act's signing by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968.The National Fair Housing Policy Conference will be held in Atlanta April 8 – 11.

Implementing the code of ethics and fair housing is a commitment of the Fayette County Board of Realtors. It is my goal to share the following information about Fair Housing, in hopes of educating all on the purpose and role that Realtors play and have played in this important legislation that governs how all Realtor members must act to ensure equality and fairness in the home buying process.

Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap and familial status are the seven categories protected by federal Fair Housing laws. Enforced by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fair Housing laws are based on the legal and ethical concept that all people should be free to buy or rent a home wherever and whenever they wish. Federal legislation makes it illegal for anyone to discriminate against any individual in a protected category seeking a home by intimidation, threats, interference or coercion of that person.

Fair Housing Law got it’s start in the US right after the Civil War with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which states that citizens of all races shall have the same right to buy, sell, lease, or hold real and personal property as people of the white race.

Fair Housing laws became enforceable with the passing of Title VIII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1968 which made it illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of a residence because of race, color, religion or national origin. An amendment in 1974 added sex, whether male of female to the list of protected categories.

The Fair Housing Amendment of 1988 not only added the categories of handicap and familial status (how many kids you have) to the list of protected categories, but provided for penalties of up to $50,000 for a first offense and $100,000 for subsequent offenses. If a case goes to federal court, the punitive damages are unlimited. If you're selling your home without the assistance of a licensed Realtor who is knowledgeable about these rules and regulations, it is possible that you may run into an issue that is against these Fair Housing laws. Whether you are a Realtor or not, you can be fined if found guilty of violating this law.

Many violations may be unintentional on the part of an agent or the result of trying too hard to service a client’s stated needs. For example, when an agent is asked by a client to find them a diverse neighborhood, or when an agent takes an immigrant family to look in neighborhoods populated by families of the same origin.

All real estate agents receive extensive training in fair housing in both their pre-license training and post- license training, where they learn to avoid violating fair housing laws through steering, blockbusting, less favorable treatment of protected classes, discrimination, improper listing and discriminatory advertising.

Realtors, as volunteer members of the Fayette County Board of Realtors, subscribe to and are further regulated by National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Article 10 of the Code of Ethics describes in detail how Realtors are to conduct themselves.

If you would like to know more about fair housing, or need to file a complaint, you can go to on the internet, or contact your local HUD office at;
Atlanta Regional Office of FHEO
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Five Points Plaza
40 Marietta Street, 16th Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-2806
(404) 331-5140
TTY (404) 730-2654

For more information on the NAR Code of Ethics you can visit or call your friendly, neighborhood Realtor. Local, State and National Realtor Boards have been at the forefront of developing fair housing training programs advocating these requirements for real estate licensees.

The Fayette County Board of REALTORS is one of nearly 1600 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. As the nation's largest trade association, NAR is "The Voice for Real Estate," representing more than 1,300,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.

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