Fair Housing for Homebuyers
Discriminatory practices encountered during the home buying process could include:
- Using different criteria to approve a loan than the criteria used to approve another person's loan file that is within the same economic range (e.g., imposing different terms, lending conditions, interest rates or fees)
- Refusing to sell or negotiate a property because of a person's protected class status
- Advertising housing in a discriminatory manner or implying directly or indirectly in marketing materials that the opportunity to buy such housing is restricted to certain groups
- "Steering" - directing households to view houses in certain neighborhoods or not providing information on housing available in particular neighborhoods
- "Blockbusting" - persuading owners to sell or rent based on the changing demographics of an area
- "Redlining" - refusing or providing higher mortgages or homebuyer insurance costs based on the area in which your prospective home is located
- Predatory Lending - practices by which lenders use abusive or deceptive lending practices that greatly inflate the cost of borrowing funds for homeownership
- Homeowner Association policies that set occupancy limits or require minimum or maximum square footage requirements that may create a disparate impact on protected classes
In general, it is illegal under fair housing laws for real estate agents, mortgage brokers, sellers, lenders, homeowner associations, insurance agents, or other industry professionals to take actions or make decisions based on a person's race, color, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, or disability.
Persons with disabilities have additional protections under fair housing law that entitle them to reasonable modification and accommodations that are necessary to allow them to purchase or use and enjoy a new home. Accommodations may be requested of lenders, real estate agents, condo or home owner associations, owners and others throughout the home buying process.
What Can I Do If My Rights Are Violated?
As a best practice, if you believe your rights have been violated, make sure to keep records of suspected violations including any documents or items in writing that record the violations made that may be accessed by legal advocates in the event you need to provide records of what occurred. Visit How to File a Complaint to learn how to file a complaint in the State of Texas.
Where Can I Find More Information on My Rights?
In addition to rights under the Fair Housing Act (www.justice.gov) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (PDF) (www.consumer.ftc.gov), the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation (TSAHC) (www.texasfinancialtoolbox.com) offers a list of entities in the State of Texas that offer Financial Education and Credit Counseling, Homebuyer Education, Foreclosure Prevention Counseling, and a list of Homeownership programs. Additional resources may also be available through local Legal Aid Offices. A comprehensive listing of each office's services and hours is available at TXLawHelp.org (www.txlawhelp.org)
For information related to requesting reasonable accommodations or entering a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), access the Equal Rights Center's Disability and Veterans Toolkit (www.equalrightscenter.org) or visit Disability Rights Texas (www.disabilityrightstx.org).
For other information and toolkits, please visit the Toolkits, Sample Forms, and Downloads page.