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Texas Fair Housing Act: An Overview

Texas Fair Housing Act An OverviewThe Fair Housing Act (FHA) represents a fundamental pillar in the fight against discrimination within the housing market. Enacted in 1968 and amended subsequently to broaden its protections, the FHA seeks to ensure that all individuals have equal access to housing, irrespective of specific protected characteristics.

In this article, we will share the scope and significance of the FHA in Texas, detailing the types of prohibited discriminatory housing practices, the obligations it places on landlords, and the actions that promote fair housing.

What is the Federal Fair Housing Act and Why is it Important?

The FHA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings. It is a crucial mechanism for promoting equality and preventing prejudices.

By outlawing discrimination, the FHA ensures broader access to housing options, supports community diversity, and fortifies the principle that one’s background should not be a barrier to securing a home.

What Type of Discrimination Does the Fair Housing Act Prohibit in Texas?

The Fair Housing Laws in Texas, as well as throughout the United States, provide comprehensive protections against discrimination in housing based on the following:

Race or Color

This provision ensures that individuals are not denied housing opportunities or treated unfavorably in their housing conditions due to a person’s race, color, national origin, or other protected class. It aims to promote equality in housing by eliminating racial biases. 

Person using a sliver pen to sign a lease agreement

National Origin

This protects individuals from being discriminated against based on their country of origin, accent, or because they appear to be from a particular part of the world. This protection is vital in fostering a diverse community where people from all backgrounds can access housing without fear of prejudice.

Religion

This provision safeguards the fundamental fair housing right regardless of one’s religious affiliations or beliefs. This means that housing providers cannot make decisions based on an individual’s religion or lack thereof, ensuring that people of all faiths (or no faith) are treated equally in the housing market.

Sex

This includes broad protections against sexual harassment in housing and bias based on gender, extending to gender identity and sexual orientation. It is essential to promote a safe and inclusive environment where individuals are judged on their merit, not their gender or sexual orientation.

Family Status 

This provision prohibits bias against families with children under 18, including pregnant women or anyone securing legal custody of children under 18. It ensures that families are not unfairly excluded from housing opportunities.

Disability

The law mandates that a reasonable accommodation must be made in housing and related facilities to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. This includes reasonable modifications to existing structures and adjustments in policies to accommodate the needs of disabled individuals, thereby ensuring they have equal access to housing.

These protections are crucial in promoting fairness and equality in the housing market. They ensure that all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances, have access to housing without discrimination. 

A tenant in a wheelchair going to their kitchen

Role of Landlords in the Fair Housing Act

Landlords play a pivotal role in enforcing and observing the Fair Housing Act. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications – Landlords are required to make or allow reasonable modifications to their living spaces to accommodate disabilities. They must also provide reasonable accommodations in policies when necessary to afford equal housing opportunities to persons with disabilities. 
  • Non-Discriminatory Advertising – Advertising should never indicate a preference or limitation based on any of the protected characteristics. This includes avoiding phrases that might dissuade certain groups from applying.
  • Fair Tenant Screening – Screening processes must be uniform and fair, applying the same criteria to all applicants without exception. This helps prevent biases from influencing decisions about tenancy.
  • Equal Treatment in Rental Practices – From setting rental prices to deciding on lease terms, landlords must treat all persons equally, ensuring practices and policies do not favor or disadvantage any group over another.
  • Preventing Harassment and Retaliation – Landlords must ensure that neither they nor their agents subject any tenant to harassment or retaliation due to the invocation of their rights under the FHA or because they belong to a protected class.
  • Educating Staff and Property Managers – Landlords are responsible for ensuring that all staff and property managers know about the Fair Housing Act and its implications for daily operations and tenant interactions.

Person holding house keys and a small home figurine

  • Record-Keeping – It is crucial to maintain accurate records of applications, leases, complaints, and accommodation requests. These records can be vital in demonstrating compliance with the FHA should any disputes arise.
  • Promptly Addressing Complaints – Residential landlords must take tenant complaints regarding discrimination seriously and address them promptly and effectively.

Bottom Line 

The Fair Housing Act in Texas embodies a commitment to equality in the housing sector. It prohibits a wide range of discriminatory practices and puts forth a positive obligation on landlords and others involved in the housing market to actively promote fairness and equality. 

Although progress has been made in the fight against housing discrimination, continual efforts are necessary to achieve the FHA’s aspirations fully. Education, vigilance, and advocacy remain critical tools in ensuring that the protections offered by the Fair Housing Act are extended to all Texans, fostering communities characterized by diversity and inclusiveness.

Real Property Management Services offers comprehensive support and guidance on adhering to FHA regulations, implementing best practices for tenant screening, and ensuring fair and inclusive rental practices. With a team of experts well-versed in the subtleties of the Fair Housing Act, our property management company helps landlords manage their properties efficiently and ethically. Contact us today to learn more!

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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