Kentucky Fair Housing Laws: Everything You Need To Know About Fair Housing
Are you a landlord in Kentucky?
Making sense of the Fair Housing Act is essential. If you have a rental property in Louisville, Lexington, or elsewhere in Kentucky, you need to comply with the housing rules connected to the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
The Fair Housing Act is a law that was put into place with the aim of ensuring that no American citizen faces housing discrimination, such as when renting or buying a property. Seven protected classes are described in the FHA to ensure fair treatment.
In this article, we are going to cover all the aspects of the Fair Housing Act that you should know about as a Kentucky landlord. Among other things, you’ll learn about housing discrimination situations, Fair Housing Act enforcement, and protected classes under housing laws in detail.
THE STARTING POINT: FAIR HOUSING ACT
Fair Housing law came into being after three significant events took place in U.S. history. All these developments predated the FHA and influenced it in one way or another.
- The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s
- The Rumford Fair Housing Act in 1963
- The Civil Rights Act in 1964
Two years before the Fair Housing Act was passed by the federal government, the state of Kentucky passed the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966, which disallowed housing discrimination at a state level. Kentucky was the first state in the South to provide state-sanctioned protections against civil rights violations.
Before the Fair Housing Act, a significant number of homebuyers and renters had to deal with serious discrimination. The developments throughout the early and mid-1960s helped to reach the establishment of the FHA in 1968. This Act was officially recognized a week after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
The main goal of Fair Housing law is simple and straightforward: remove discrimination from the housing market. Without this Act governing the communication and arrangements between prospects and owners, episodes of major housing discrimination would be overlooked.
WHO IS PROTECTED UNDER THE FHA?
You’ll find seven separate classes mentioned in the FHA. That’s because these classes of people were most discriminated against before the Fair Housing Act was drafted and recognized.
- Familial Status
While some of the classes shouldn’t cause any misunderstandings, Familial Status is a class that requires further clarification. Someone is a part of this class if they match at least one of the following descriptions.
- Pregnant women
- Parents with one or more children living with them who are under 18
- People in process of receiving legal custody of a child younger than 18
- Legal guardians with one or more children living with them who are under 18
- Designees of legal guardians or parents with a child who is under 18
In the state of Kentucky, housing discrimination based on sexual orientation is against the law in Louisville, Lexington, and Covington. Additionally, it’s good to know that sexual orientation and gender identity were ruled by a federal judge as protected classes under the Fair Housing Act in 2017. A connected amendment that will prevent discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity is in the pipeline.
Remember that the FHA has certain exemptions. The notable exclusions include owner-occupied homes with fewer than four units for rent, private clubs and associations with a members-only concept, and single-family homes that are sold or rented without a broker’s help.
HOW IS FHA ENFORCED?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. As a rule, people are always able to file a claim with Housing and Urban Development. However, the alternative of filing a lawsuit in a federal district court exists as well.
Housing and Urban Development starts an investigation after someone has filed a qualifying claim. A team of experts focuses on finding the right solution for a particular case. Not every report of discrimination is always a legally qualifying situation.
As a landlord, it’s vital to remember that Housing and Urban Development hires staff who act as interested prospects. At any point in time, one of your applicants may work for Housing and Urban Development. You need to comply with the Fair Housing law and Kentucky Housing and Urban Development laws at any given point in time. No discriminatory remarks or rules can be part of your ads, listings, phone calls, or face-to-face conversations.
The state of Kentucky also has its own Fair Housing Council. The Lexington Fair Housing Council can conduct investigations on behalf of tenants to enforce the FHA and other Kentucky Housing and Urban Development laws. You can learn more about the Lexington Fair Housing Council on their website.
The outcome of the Fair Housing violations depends on how severe the violation is in the first place. Simple discrimination, such as charging higher rent for someone from a protected class, may lead to a fine, imprisonment up to a year, or both. In more serious cases, threatening with, attempting to use or utilizing weapons, explosives, or fire, or causing bodily injuries in any other way could lead to a fine, imprisonment up to ten years, or both.
HOW DOES DISCRIMINATION ACTUALLY PLAY OUT?
The previous paragraph briefly described extreme cases. In many cases, landlords don’t realize how seemingly subtle changes in their ad copy or interview questions can turn simple requirements into actual discrimination.
Now we are going to list common acts of housing discrimination. Keep in mind that these scenarios are in the context of the applicant being from one of the protected classes under the FHA.
- Refusing to rent a property to an otherwise qualifying tenant
- Withholding information about availability
- Adding discriminatory statements to rental listings, leaflets, etc
- Removing amenities for people from a certain protected class
- Charging different rent based on individual tenant characteristics
- Changing the lease agreement terms for someone from a protected class
- Taking the necessary steps to make a rental property unavailable for someone
HOW TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE AS A LANDLORD IN KENTUCKY?
Make sure to completely understand the implications and requirements as described in the Act. You may find that even the simplest forms of discrimination can lead to serious legal consequences.
- When you are screening your applicants, adhere to the exact same rules when dealing with everyone.
- Respect all your prospects regardless of their background and identity (including gender identity, sexual orientation, familial status, and national origin).
- Double-check your ads and online listings. Weigh your ad copy against the guidelines. Remove unfit content that could be discriminatory against protected characteristics (gender identity, familial status, national origin, age, sex, etc.).
IN A NUTSHELL: FAIR HOUSING ACT
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) regulates the U.S. housing market to prevent discrimination against people from certain classes. As a Kentucky rental property owner, you need to make sure that you always comply with the Fair Housing Act.
In practice, this means cutting discriminatory remarks and policies from your written and oral communication. Make sure that formal components of your lease agreement, such as terms regarding security deposits, and of your landlord-tenant relationship adhere to this federal statute.
If you are looking for more help regarding compliance with the Fair Housing Act at either a federal level or at a state level, reach out to a professional property management company like Alltrade, or an attorney.