April is Fair Housing Month

April 11, 2010

Since becoming law in April 1968, the Fair Housing Act has been celebrated in the month of April as one of the greatest milestones in American history for the movement to protect human rights and abolish discrimination in housing.

The Act, which was amended in 1988, provides protection from discrimination when seeking housing based on any of the seven protected classes: race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status or disability. Fair Housing laws give every individual the right to buy, sell or rent residential property, and the right to peaceful enjoyment of their property.

Prior to the passing of the Fair Housing Act, discrimination was an all-too-frequent occurrence, with some real estate agents declining services and some property owners refusing to sell or lease their homes to certain people. A practice known as “blockbusting” was routinely used as an intimidation strategy to persuade homeowners to sell their properties for less than their true value, based on information that members of a certain minority were moving into the neighborhood.

Since the passing of the Fair Housing Act, many real estate organizations across the country have applauded and supported fair-housing laws, providing education and training to ensure that real estate professionals, property owners and those seeking to purchase or lease property understand the provisions of our fair-housing laws.

In most states, real estate professionals are required to complete fair-housing education as part of their licensing requirements and, to maintain that license, are required to complete real estate continuing education that includes renewal classes on fair housing.

The real estate industry is required, under fair-housing laws, to provide “equal professional service” including making and keeping appointments, selecting properties to show and providing information as well as facilitating the purchase, sale or lease of real estate, regardless of the client’s membership in any of the seven protected classes under fair housing laws.

Fair-housing laws are administered by HUD, and that is where the majority of the fair-housing complaints are filed, however, most states have enacted their own guidelines and will pursue fair-housing complaints through the State Attorney General or real estate commission. Fair-housing violators are subject to fines, punitive damages and in many states, loss of real estate license, depending upon the severity of the violations.

During this month’s commemoration of the enactment of the Fair Housing Act, real estate professionals are urged to take the opportunity to review business practices and philosophies to ensure total compliance with fair housing laws. As an industry, and as individuals, we should continue to build awareness of fair-housing concerns, deliver equal professional service, provide equal housing opportunities and promote healthy diversity in our communities.

About The Author

Read All Stories By Mitch Levinson

Mitch Levinson is the author of “Internet Marketing: The Key to Increased New Home Sales” published by BuilderBooks. He is an Internet marketing expert with expertise in search engine optimization, website development, email marketing, social media and CRM consulting services. He is known for creating effective programs that can be tracked through analytics to prove effectiveness and ROI. Mitch is founder and president of MLC New Home Marketing and MLC FlatFee Realty, as well as managing partner of mRELEVANCE, LLC, a Marketing, Communication, Interactive agency with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. He currently leads the Chicago team. A Multi-Million Dollar Sales Producer who earned an MBA in Computer Information Systems and eCommerce, he brings a unique perspective and experience to the field of real estate communications. Mitch combines the two interests in order to help home builders and developers gain a competitive advantage through the Internet and technology. When he isn’t behind a computer, he enjoys participating in sports and coaching his kids’ teams. Mitch resides in Arlington Heights, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago, with his family, which includes two rambunctious labs. Visit my Google+ profile.

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