Florida Fair Housing Act: an Overview

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Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, everyone has the right to be treated with fairness and respect. But what makes this legal, is the Florida Fair Housing Act (FHA)!

The Fair Housing Act was put in place to provide equal housing opportunities in Florida. So, landlords, buyers, lenders, and renters are protected from discrimination in housing procedures.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that examples of discrimination under Federal fair housing laws include the following:

  • Charging different prices for rent of the property based on the Fair Housing protected classes.
  • A landlord failing to or excessively delaying necessary maintenance for renters.
  • Limiting services, privileges, or facilities of the rental home based on the Fair Housing protected classes.

Throughout this blog post, we at TrueNest Property Management will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the Fair Housing Act.

Walking you through its history, and how it works today to protect different classes from housing discrimination. So, here is everything that renters, landlords, and homeowners need to know when it comes to the Florida Fair Housing Act!

What is the Fair Housing Act?

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The Florida landlord-tenant laws may govern the overall management of a The Fair Housing Act is a law created to protect everyone from housing discrimination. The Florida Fair Housing act was put in place to give everyone an equal opportunity to find a place to live without fear of discrimination based on a protected class.

The Creation of the Fair Housing Act

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, lawmakers began to create real change to combat housing discrimination.

The first two attempts to create fair housing regulations and address discriminations were The Rumford Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the groundbreaking legislation that took place was the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This was enacted a week after the assassination of Martin Luther King jr.

Who Is Protected Under the Fair Housing Act?

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to commit acts of housing discrimination based on the following 7 factors.

  • Disability
  • Familial Status
  • National Origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex or Gender

These factors became known as the protected classes, as they are designed to protect certain classes of society from housing discrimination or breaking a lease, that may not have had protection before.

How the Fair Housing Act Fights Discrimination

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There are 3 parts to the Fair Housing Act when it comes to protecting housing rights and preventing discrimination against the protected classes. The following actions are prohibited according to the Florida Fair Housing Act.

  • Refusing to rent a property based on a protected class.
  • Lying about whether the housing is available or making it unavailable altogether to someone of a specific protected class.
  • Enforcing different terms and conditions to a protected class when renting a home.
  • Providing different accommodations in the home based on someone’s protected class.
  • Evicting a tenant based on their protected class.

Aside from the above actions, there are other provisions made by the Fair Housing Act to help the protected classes.

  • Advertising your property with an indication that you are searching for a person with a specific background, excluding a protected group of people counts as housing discrimination and so is illegal.  
  • Making discriminatory statements in a listing based on a protected class is also illegal.
  • Interfering with or threatening anyone’s right to housing based on a protected class.
  • Charging an additional security deposit based on a protected class.

Exemptions From the Fair Housing Act

In some cases, the following groups of people may be exempt from the rules stated in the Fair Housing Act:

  • Single-family homes that are being rented without the influence of a broker
  • Properties that are owner-occupied with 4 units or less.
  • Private, members-only clubs and organizations.

The Enforcement of the Fair Housing Act

When it comes to enforcing the Florida Fair Housing Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible. There are 2 ways in which HUD will enforce the Fair Housing Act.

Fair Housing Testers

Sometimes, the HUD will hire people to act as home buyers or renters to determine if the landlord or seller is using discriminatory practices. As a landlord, it is important to ensure the language that you use in person, over the phone, or on listings is always adhering to the Fair Housing Act.

Investigate Claims of Discrimination

If an individual feels that their right to housing is being violated, they may address the issue by filing a claim with the HUD. The HUD will then investigate the claim to determine whether or not to move forward with legal action if necessary.

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How Can Landlords Avoid Being Accused of Discrimination

While it is prohibited to deny tenants rent based on the criteria we have discussed, there are many other reasons you can rule out a potential tenant. For example, you can legally deny a tenant housing based on a poor credit score, a history of being unable to pay rent, or other information that you may find after running a credit check on them.

It is important to be consistent and thorough with your tenant screening process and have the same process and standards for each and every prospective tenant. Each tenant should receive the exact same process when they are applying to rent your property.

Always ask for the same documents, fees, referrals, and information from every applicant, and be sure to treat everyone with equal respect and dignity.

Bottom Line

The Florida Fair Housing Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation that a landlord should be familiar with. You must ensure that your business practices comply with these laws, allowing any qualified prospect to rent your property.

Should you have any questions, it’s best to contact an expert should as ourselves at TrueNest Property Management. We have the skills and experience to handle any property management issue!

Disclaimer: Laws change frequently and the content within this article may not be updated to reflect current legislation. If you have any questions or concerns we always advise you to contact a legal professional or property management company.