April is Fair Housing Month

April 2, 2018

Kay Wilson-Bolton

Realtors will be making the rounds speaking to all city council meetings and the Board of Supervisors to talk about why Fair Housing is so “American.”  We will also be talking about the daily threats of real estate fraud in all aspects of our lives. This includes rentals, deed transfers, loan modifications and equity loans. Real estate professionals have partnered with the District Attorney’s office to prosecute those who steal equity from us.

In honor of the anniversary of the passing of the Fair Housing Act and in remembrance of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, April is set aside as National Fair Housing Month to remind us all that equality is at the heart of the American dream.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the campaign includes efforts to end housing discrimination and raise awareness fair housing rights in communities across the country.

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.

Housing discrimination occurs when an individual or family is treated unequally when trying to buy, rent, lease, sell or finance a home based on certain characteristics.  This type of discrimination can lead to housing, spatial inequality and racial segregation which, in turn, can affect the wealth disparities between certain groups.

In the United States, housing discrimination began after the abolition of slavery as part of a federally sponsored law, but has since been made illegal; however, studies show that housing discrimination still exists.

Federal and State governments have various laws stemming from rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.  Most of us think we know what that means, but there is evidence of unfair housing practices in many areas, from rental application processing, lending practices and discrimination by those who make decisions about where people should or can live.

This matter is very important to Realtors®. Our Code of Ethics provides specific instruction in   Article 10 where “REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation. 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 or sexual orientation. (Amended 1/11).

Real estate contracts and documents include warnings, admonitions and agreements about fair housing, equal opportunity and fairness. In the typical listing agreement, it simply                                                                                                              states in paragraph, “14. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY: The Property is offered in compliance with federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws.

In the Real Estate Purchase Agreement, paragraph 27 reads: “27. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY: The Property is sold in compliance with federal, state and local anti-discrimination Laws.”

Generally speaking, anti-discrimination law refers to the law on the right of people to be treated equally without regard to sex, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and sometimes religious and political opinions.

There are many reasons we should support fair housing practices. It simply is “so American.”

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a member of the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team (www.refat.org) and a director of the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors.  There is more information about Fair Housing Month at www.vcrealtors.com.