In April, we commemorate Fair Housing Month to honor the Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968. The act created protected classes to ensure all have equal accessibility to housing. These protected classes cannot be discriminated against when being considered for rentals, homes, and loans.
There are federally protected classes and state-specific protected classes nationwide. On a Federal level, one cannot be discriminated against on the basis of:
• National Origin
• Familial Status
Rhode Island has 5 additional protected classes, which include:
– Country of Ancestral Origin
– Gender Identity / Expression
– Marital Status
– Housing Status
– Lawful Source of Income
– Military Status
– Sexual Orientation
– Status as a Victim of Domestic Abuse
Additionally, all members of the REALTOR® Association agree to adhere to the NAR’s Code of Ethics, where Article 10 states:
“REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
If you are a consumer and feel your Fair Housing rights have been violated, you may:
- Contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which oversees the Act. Complaints can be filed here.
- Contact the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights. You have up to one (1) year to file from the date of the incident but in any event, contact the RICHR as soon as possible so they may investigate the charge.
- Contact the agent’s broker to help you with your problem. Or the Broker can refer them to their local Board of REALTORS®, where they may file a complaint.
- File an Ethics complaint with a local Board of REALTORS®. In Rhode Island we have 5 local Boards. The complaint would be filed with the local Board that the agent in question is a member of. A listing of GPBOR members can be found here.