FOR RELEASE: April 1, 2012CONTACT: Mary Broz VaughanDirector of Communications, Legislation & Consumer Education(804) 367-9142 or Mary.Broz-Vaughan@dpor.virginia.gov
Richmond – A rental listing that says, “No Kids” . . . A real estate firm refuses to allow a tenant with multiple sclerosis to transfer to a first-floor apartment with a no-step entry . . . A landlord turns off a tenant’s electricity and evicts her after learning her boyfriend’s race (Black).
These are not examples of discrimination from a distant past. They are real-life cases brought by the Virginia Fair Housing Office in the past year.
Four decades after the passage of the Virginia Fair Housing Law, we are reminded that discrimination has no home in Virginia or anywhere in America. Recognizing that “equal housing opportunities are essential for supporting vibrant communities and economic vitality,” Gov. Bob McDonnell proclaims April as Fair Housing Month in Virginia.
Federal and state fair housing laws prohibit housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status (families with children under age 18). In addition, Virginia’s Fair Housing Law—which celebrates its 40th anniversary in April 2012—further protects “elderliness,” individuals age 55 or older, from housing discrimination.
Fair Housing Law protects people from bias when trying to rent an apartment, buy a house, obtain a mortgage, or purchase homeowner’s insurance. Fair housing requirements apply to all housing providers – property managers, owners, landlords, real estate agents, banks, savings institutions, credit unions, insurance companies, mortgage lenders, and appraisers.
The Fair Housing Board administers and enforces the Fair Housing Law, although the Real Estate Board is responsible for fair housing cases involving real estate licensees or their employees. Each Board investigates housing discrimination through the Fair Housing Office, which receives an average of 180 complaints each year. The greatest number of complaints involves racial discrimination, but disability and familial status complaints continue to rise.
Individuals who believe they may be victims of housing discrimination should contact the Virginia Fair Housing Office toll-free at 1-888-551-FAIR (3247). The agency also offers free informational seminars to housing consumers and providers who wish to learn more about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.
please contact us in writing or via telephone and we will work with you to make the information available.