The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law enacted in 1968 that prohibits discrimination in housing based on certain protected characteristics, such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. The law applies to all states, including Florida, and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In this blog post, we will discuss the Fair Housing Act in Florida, its history, and how it is enforced.
History of the Fair Housing Act in Florida
The Fair Housing Act was enacted in response to widespread housing discrimination against African Americans in the 1960s. Prior to the passage of the Act, discriminatory practices such as redlining, restrictive covenants, and steering were common in the housing market. These practices effectively segregated neighborhoods and prevented minorities from accessing quality housing and the benefits that come with it.
In Florida, the Fair Housing Act has been instrumental in addressing discriminatory practices in housing. In 1983, the state of Florida adopted the Florida Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on the same protected characteristics as federal law. The Florida law also includes additional protections for victims of domestic violence and prohibits discrimination based on age, marital status, and sexual orientation.
Enforcement of the Fair Housing Act in Florida
HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act through its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). FHEO investigates complaints of housing discrimination, provides education and outreach to the public, and promotes fair housing practices.
In addition to HUD, the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) is responsible for enforcing the state’s Fair Housing Act. FCHR investigates complaints of housing discrimination and can file a lawsuit against violators of the law. The commission also educates the public on fair housing practices and conducts testing to identify discriminatory practices.
Examples of Housing Discrimination in Florida
- Refusing to rent or sell a property to someone based on their race, national origin, or other protected characteristics
- Imposing different rental terms or conditions on someone based on their sex, marital status, or disability
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations for someone with a disability, such as allowing a service animal or modifying a unit to accommodate a wheelchair
- Harassing someone based on their religion, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics
- Failing to provide language assistance to someone who does not speak English fluently
Fair Housing Act Violations
Penalties for violating the Fair Housing Act can be severe. In addition to damages that a victim of discrimination can receive, violators can be fined up to $16,000 for a first-time offense and up to $65,000 for multiple violations.
Fair Housing in Southwest Florida
At Douglas Realty Property Management in southwest Florida, we always follow all federal and state rules and regulations regarding fair housing. We understand that all Floridians deserve a home, and we strive to provide our neighbors with safe, functional housing that helps them live their very best lives. For more information on renting out your property with us, call 239-542-6906, contact us online, or visit one of our office locations in: