Frequently asked questions

What exactly is housing discrimination?

Federal Fair Housing Laws give all individuals the right to live wherever they choose and can afford. It prohibits discrimination based on RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN, GENDER, DISABILITY (physical and/or mental), and FAMILIAL STATUS (families with children).

The laws prohibit landlords, sellers, lenders and insurance agents from discriminating against a person who comes under any one of these "protected classes" in the purchasing, rental, financing or insuring of housing. All types of housing are covered, including single family homes, apartments, condominiums, mobile homes and other dwellings.

What are some signs to look for to help identify illegal housing discrimination?

In the sale and rental of housing, all of the following actions are discriminatory and illegal, if they are based on one or more of the "protected classed" mentioned above:

  • Refusing to sell, rent, or show available housing.
  • Only showing housing in areas or neighborhoods of minority concentration.
  • Harass, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising or assisting someone else with exercising their fair housing rights.
  • Housing advertisements or statements indicating limitation or preference of minorities, or displaying no minorities in group scenes. This applies to 1 - 4 unit owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
  • Differing terms for identical dwellings.
  • Providing different housing services or facilities, or enforcing different rules for minority tenants.
  • Extensive questioning prior to offering or providing information about the availability of housing.
  • Being told the dwelling is not appropriate for your family.
  • Terms or availability change between phone contact and visit.
  • You are not contacted after acceptance of your application.
  • Dwelling has an available sign but you are told it is not available.
  • Failing to design and construct housing in an accessible manner.
  • Refusing to make a reasonable accommodation or allow a modification to make the dwelling accessible for a person with a mental or physical disability, including persons recovering from alcohol and substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS-related illnesses.
  • Refusal to finance the purchase of a home or write property insurance or offering non-standard and unfavorable terms.
  • Conducting property appraisals in a discriminatory manner.

Which federal and state laws protect me from being discriminated against?

The Civil Rights Act, Title VIII: Federal Fair Housing Act U.S. protects nationally your rights to fair housing. Approved in 1968, the act made housing discrimination, as described above, unlawful. However, it wasn't until 1988 that the act was amended to include persons with disabilities and families with children.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by Congress in 1990 to provide civil rights protections to people who have disabilities. The ADA specifically covers employment, transportation, places of public accommodations and communications. It does not apply to housing except in rare circumstances.

The Arizona Fair Housing Act of 1990 provides substantially the same protections as the Federal Fair Housing Act. The act identifies unlawful housing related practices and establishes a statutory procedure to resolve housing discrimination complaints at the local level in a timely, cost efficient and effective manner. It provides different procedures for the administrative complaint processing than the federal act provides.

The Arizona Residential Landlord & Tenant Act is separate from the State Fair Housing Act and deals with the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in rental housing situations. The act deals with such issues as repairs that must be done in the unit, the signing of leases, payment of security deposits, when and under what circumstances a tenant can be evicted and the process for evictions. Most questions that a tenant in a rental situation might have are covered by different sections of the act. A copy of the Arizona Residential Landlord & Tenant Act can be obtained from the Secretary of State's Office your local County Justice, Legal Aid or SWFHC. It can be downloaded here.

If I believe that I have been discriminated against, what should I do?

  1. Record the experiences. Write down names of individuals, companies, addresses, phone numbers, dates, times and witnesses involved.
  2. Make notes of conversations or incidents that might indicate discrimination.
  3. Keep copies of advertising, letters or other relevant information.
  4. If you know a person of the opposite sex, or different race, etc., who received a different answer than you did, make a note of their name and address.
  5. Contact the Southwest Fair Housing Council at (520) 798-1568 or 1-888-624-4611 or email us swfhc@swfhc.com