Exploring the basics of Fair Housing Law in North Carolina is vital if you own and operate a rental property. Understanding the rights of your tenants or yourself as the landlord, making sense of laws that protect against discrimination, and navigating the ins and outs of this legal topic is essential for those operating a rental business in the state.
In this blog post, we at House in Order Property Management will provide an overview of the key components behind Fair Housing Laws in North Carolina so that you can understand your rights fully and run your business in accordance with them.
What Fair Housing Means
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. In North Carolina, this act also includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.
The North Carolina Fair Housing Act applies to all aspects of real estate and housing matters including renting or purchasing a property as well as advertising practices and lending requirements.
What Does the North Carolina Fair Housing Act Cover?
The North Carolina Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing matters on the basis of a person's protected classes. Under the North Carolina Fair Housing Laws it’s, therefore, illegal to refuse to rent property to someone based on any of their protected classes and for landlords to set different terms and conditions for tenants in a discriminatory manner.
Additionally, this law applies to all real estate transactions such as appraisals and rental advertisements. In addition to providing protections against discrimination in housing offerings, the North Carolina Fair Housing Act also has requirements regarding accessibility for people with disabilities.
Landlords must provide reasonable accommodations for persons with physical or mental impairments which limit their ability to use public services or enjoy their living space. For example, if a tenant with a disability needs access to the front door of their building and there are no ramps, then landlords must provide an appropriate ramp for them.
What Types of Properties Does the Fair Housing Act Cover?
The Fair Housing Act applies to any real estate transaction involving the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings. This includes apartments and single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, condominiums, cooperatives, and other kinds of housing.
The Act prohibits discrimination in all types of residential properties and also covers mobile homes, manufactured housing, and other types of residential property designed as living spaces. In addition to protecting buyers and renters from discrimination, it also prohibits discriminatory practices such as predatory lending and blockbusting.
What Types of Properties Are Exempt from the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act is designed to protect individuals against discrimination when it comes to accessing housing and services related to housing. However, not all types of properties are subject to the regulations established by this Act.
Properties owned or operated by religious organizations or private clubs that limit occupancy to their members are typically exempt. Additionally, single-family homes that are sold or rented without using a real estate agent or broker may also be excluded from the protections in this law.
Finally, owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, where one unit is occupied by the owner, are also typically exempt.
What are Examples of Violations of the Fair Housing Act?
Common violations of the Fair Housing Act include refusing to rent or sell homes to someone because of their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Other examples include:
- Discriminating against tenants based on their source of income (e.g., Section 8 vouchers)
- Steering tenants to certain neighborhoods based on their race, color, national origin, or other protected classes
- Advertising a property only in publications meant for one particular group of people
- Charging higher security deposits or other fees based on someone’s protected class
- Implementing policies that discriminate against families with children
- Refusing reasonable modifications to the property for tenants with disabilities
- Engaging in retaliatory actions, like eviction, against tenants who file a complaint about housing discrimination
How Can North Carolina Landlords Avoid Discrimination Claims?
In North Carolina, there are several key steps landlords can take to avoid potential discrimination claims in accordance with the Fair Housing Act.
Firstly, it’s important for landlords to make sure that they do not deny housing opportunities on the basis of protected classes such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. It’s also important for landlords to ensure that they do not discriminate in terms of the advertising, leasing, and financing of properties.
When advertising a property, landlords should avoid phrases or language that could be interpreted as unlawfully discriminatory. Additionally, when considering rental applications from prospective tenants, it’s important to apply the same criteria to all applicants and not make decisions based solely on an individual’s protected characteristics.
Finally, landlords should be aware of their obligations when it comes to accommodating reasonable requests by tenants with disabilities, such as providing accessible units or making structural modifications to existing properties.
The Fair Housing Act protects individuals from discrimination based on a person's protected classes. Violations of this law can be very costly for landlords. It’s important to understand how common violations of the Fair Housing Act can occur so that you, as the landlord, can properly comply and protect yourself.
You should also stay informed of landlord-tenant laws and regulations for breaking a lease early. If you need any help understanding these or managing your rental properties contact House In Order Property Management today!
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 regard to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.