Discrimination has no place when it comes to finding a home. Ensuring equal access to habitation opportunities is a paramount concern in the state of Texas when it comes to landlord-tenant laws. That’s where the Fair Housing Act comes into play. 

Enacted in 1968, this federal legislation is a powerful tool in combating habitation discrimination, protecting the rights of individuals, and fostering inclusive communities. 

Understanding the Fair Housing Act

The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) aims to eliminate habitation discrimination and ensure equal access to housing opportunities for all individuals. Its scope covers various housing-related activities, including renting, selling, financing, and advertising housing.

Under Fair Housing Laws, it is illegal to discriminate against individuals based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status. This means that providers cannot deny housing, set different terms or conditions, or provide inferior services based on these protected characteristics.

Prohibited forms of housing discrimination include refusing to rent or sell housing, setting different rental terms or conditions, providing unequal services or facilities, making housing unavailable, imposing discriminatory advertising or marketing practices, and engaging in other acts denying equal housing opportunities.

The FHA protects various classes of individuals from discrimination. These classes include individuals of different races, colors, religions, sexes, national origins, people with disabilities, and families with children. 

It ensures that no one should be denied housing or face unfair treatment due to these characteristics.

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Fair Housing Act Compliance in Texas

Providers of housing in Texas have the responsibility to understand and comply with the requirements of the Texas Fair Housing Act. This includes treating all individuals equally and avoiding any inequitable practices in rental, sales, financing, and other housing-related activities. 

They must provide reasonable accommodation and modifications for individuals with disabilities, if necessary, and ensure that their housing is accessible for people with disabilities.

When advertising and marketing their housing, providers in Texas must use inclusive language and imagery, and they must avoid making discriminatory statements or expressing preferences that may exclude certain individuals. 

They must provide accurate and non-discriminatory information about available housing opportunities and treat all potential renters or buyers equally during the application process.

Home providers in Texas must make reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities. This may include allowing service animals, providing accessible parking spaces, or modifying policies or procedures to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

Landlords must also ensure that new or newly constructed housing meets accessibility standards, ensuring accessible entrances, doorways, and facilities

Enforcement and Remedies

Various government agencies enforce the law in Texas. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Texas Workforce Commission – Civil Rights Division (TWC-CRD), and Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) are responsible for enforcing the Act. 

Individuals who believe they have experienced housing discrimination can file a complaint with the relevant agency within a specified timeframe. The agency will then investigate, requesting documentation and information about the alleged discrimination. 

Legal remedies and penalties may be imposed if a violation is found, aiming to rectify the harm caused by the discrimination.

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Fair Housing Act Exceptions and Exemptions in Texas

The FHA in Texas provides limited exemptions for certain housing or organizations. 

These exemptions may apply to housing types, such as owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units, single-family homes rented or sold without a real estate broker, and private clubs that provide housing exclusively to their members. 

However, it’s important to note that exemptions may vary, and it’s crucial to consult the specific regulations and guidelines for each exemption.

In addition to exemptions for certain housing types, there may also have exemptions based on size and other factors. For instance, certain providers may be exempt based on the number of units they own or manage. 

Small-scale landlords who own or rent only a limited number of units may be exempt from certain provisions of the Act. However, it’s important to carefully review the size thresholds and other qualifying criteria to determine if an exemption applies.

Recent Updates and Developments

The FHA and its application in Texas are subject to updates and developments. Recent changes or amendments to the Act may impact its scope or provisions. These changes could be at the federal level or specific to Texas. 

Staying informed about these updates is crucial for home providers, tenants, and individuals interested in equal  housing practices to ensure compliance with current regulations.

Over the years, various landmark cases and legal precedents have emerged in Texas that have shaped equal housing practices and interpretations of the FHA. These cases have addressed inequitable practices, reasonable accommodations, accessibility requirements, and the rights of these individuals. 

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Familiarizing oneself with these legal precedents can provide valuable insights into interpreting and enforcing equal housing laws in Texas.

Best Practices for Fair Housing Compliance

Here are a few tips for providers to ensure compliance:

  • Educate and train staff on equal housing laws.
  • Establish non-discriminatory policies and enforce them consistently.
  • Use objective criteria for applicant screenings.
  • Treat all individuals equally in housing-related interactions.
  • Maintain inclusive marketing practices.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
  • Keep thorough records of interactions and documents.
  • Stay updated on equal housing laws and regulations.
  • Seek legal advice when needed.
  • Foster a culture of fair housing compliance.

Landlords should also be aware of the rules and regulations regarding security deposits, lease breaks, evictions, and fees. Make sure to research the law in your area, as laws vary depending on your state.

Bottom Line

In Texas, the FHA is critical in promoting equal access to housing opportunities for individuals across protected classes. People that provide housing are responsible for understanding and complying with the Act, ensuring non-discriminatory practices in all aspects of their operations. 

By adhering to best practices, such as educating staff, maintaining inclusive marketing, providing reasonable accommodations, and fostering a culture of fair housing compliance, we can contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable housing landscape in Texas.

Are you a housing provider in Texas? Take proactive steps to ensure fair housing compliance and promote equal opportunities. Contact Keyrenter Austin today to learn how our expert team can assist you in navigating the complexities of the FHA and fostering a culture of inclusivity in your rental property management. 

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.