The United States federal government created the Fair Housing Act in 1968 to ensure fair lending practices by all mortgage lenders and to eliminate any possible discrimination toward borrowers. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, any discrimination in mortgage lending is illegal and is strictly prohibited by the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is enforced on a federal level by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO).
Because of the Fair Housing Act, lenders cannot legally use your race, nation of origin, sex, color, handicap, religion, or familial status, to assign or evaluate your loan worthiness. A lender cannot use any of these factors to:
- Deny you a mortgage loan
- Refuse to offer you information regarding a loan
- Offer you different conditions or terms on a loan, such as points, interest rates, or fees
- Discriminate during a property’s appraisal
- Deny the purchase of a loan or offer different conditions and terms on purchasing a loan
Filing a Complaint
Since it is federally illegal for lenders to discriminate against any individual who is looking to rent or buy a home, based on your color, national origin, race, religion, familial status, disability, or sex, you have the the ability to file an official complaint if you believe your rights have been violated.
If you feel you have experienced discrimination, or if you suspect you have been the recipient of discrimination based on the above list, HUD will investigate your circumstance at no cost. You can file an official complaint, here.
Home Mortgage Disclosure Act
In 1975 Congress enacted the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) which legislates the reporting of loan data by mortgage companies and other lenders. The HMDA regulates the collection of data related to the geographical distribution of mortgage loans and those applying for them, their ethnicity, sex, race, the income of borrowers, and whether or not their loan has been denied or approved.
The collection of this data is only used to ensure fair practices in the lending process and not as a discriminatory tool.
Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act
The Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (FECO) makes it illegal for creditors to discriminate against credit applicants based on their, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age, because the applicant has asserted any of their rights under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, or because any or all of the applicant's income comes in the form of a public assistance program.
Fair Housing Enforcement by the FHEO
FHEO, or the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, is an agency in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The FHEO administers and enforces all fair housing laws and establishes policies to ensure that every American has equal and fair access to the housing options of their choice.
The mission of the FHEO is to create equal housing opportunities for all Americans by enforcing laws against housing and lending discrimination for any of the reasons listed above. As part of enforcing these policies the FHEO has overview for the following housing legislative acts.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Under Title VI it is federally illegal to discriminate for federal financial assistance programs or activities based on color, race, or national origin.
The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act (Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1968), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the rental, sale, or financing of homes and other housing transactions based on color, national origin, sex, religion, family status, or handicap.
Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
The Architectural Barriers Act requires that all buildings and facilities which have been designed constructed, altered, or leased with any federal funds be accessible and easily usable by handicapped individuals.
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972
Under Title IX any discrimination is prohibited by law based on a person’s sex in relation to educational programs or activities which receive federal financial assistance.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Under Section 504 you cannot discrimination based on any handicap or disability in any activity or programs receiving federal financial assistance.
Section 109 of Title 1 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974
Under Section 109 discrimination is prohibited for those receiving assistance from HUD’s Community Development and Block Grant Program based on their color, race, national origin, religion, or sex.
Age Discrimination Act of 1975
The Age Discrimination Act prohibits any discrimination based on a person’s age in relation to activities and programs related to receiving federal financial assistance.
Title 2 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Under Title 2 discrimination is prohibited in services, programs, and activities based on a person's disability. HUD enforces Title 2 as it relates to local and state public housing, housing referrals, and housing assistance.
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