The federal Fair Housing Act, originally passed in 1964 and amended several times since its passage, protects Rhode Island home buyers and renters from certain types of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, and age, among other protected statuses. Real estate agents, developers, property owners, landlords, banks, insurance providers, and other organizations must all meet the Fair Housing Act requirements when advertising, selling, or renting a home to the public, or they may face significant legal penalties.
Housing discrimination can take many forms, and it is not always obvious whether a practice is discriminatory. Some types of discrimination that are illegal under federal law include advertising property in a way that reveals a preference for or exclusion of people of a protected class. This prohibition on discriminatory advertising extends to realtors, who are forbidden from discouraging or denying members of a protected class the ability to view or purchase property. Furthermore, realtors may not steer members of a protected class into properties in a certain neighborhood that reflects the ethnic makeup of the prospective buyers or renters.
Housing discrimination protections extend into the banking and mortgage market as well. While mortgage lenders are permitted to consider a borrower’s ability to pay a mortgage payment and their credit history, a lender may not refuse a borrower’s loan because they are a member of a protected class. In addition to prohibitions on the outright refusal of a loan, lenders also may not try to steer people into certain types of loans or offer them different terms and conditions for a loan based on the borrower’s membership in a protected class.
In addition to the requirements imposed on lenders and those marketing real estate, insurance providers are also prohibited from discriminating against members of a protected class. In the past, insurance providers would refuse to offer homeowners or renters insurance to people living in certain neighborhoods based on the neighborhood’s racial or ethnic makeup. This behavior is illegal, and the protections extend to all of the other protected classes as well.
Contact a Rhode Island Real Estate Lawyer Today
Whether you are in the market for a home in Rhode Island and fear that you have been the victim of housing discrimination, or you are looking to market real estate or related services and want to be sure that your practices are in accordance with state and federal fair housing law, seeking the advice of a skilled Rhode Island real estate attorney is an excellent way to be sure that the law is on your side before pursuing any course of action. Violations of fair housing statutes can carry significant civil penalties, and criminal liability is even possible. The Rhode Island property attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo understand the federal Fair Housing Act and can advise you to be sure that you comply with the relevant laws. Contact us with all of your Rhode Island real estate law questions, including queries concerning hosing discrimination. Call our offices at 401-300-4055 to schedule a consultation.