Know your rights: Law protects tenants, home buyers from discrimination - Know your rights: Law protects tenants, home buyers from discrimination -

Know your rights: Law protects tenants, home buyers from discrimination


People who feel like they have been unfairly rejected from renting an apartment or buying a home – especially people of color, someone with a disability, families with children, and recipients of vouchers/other subsidies – can call the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights for relief.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in housing based on race or color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. Yet housing discrimination persists because some landlords and others in the housing industry use “one-size-fits-all” tenant-screening policies that gauge things like credit scores or criminal histories. That essentially illegally “blacklists” would-be tenants.

A landmark case

A federal judge recently ruled that such practices are potentially discriminatory unless an “individualized assessment” is conducted, and the affected applicant is apprised of the factors involved in conducting such an analysis. For more on that case, read here.

The New Jersey Division of Civil Rights can challenge such practices – if they know about them. If you suspect unfair housing practices, contact the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights Housing Discrimination Hotline at (866) 405-3050. You can also call the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing Discrimination Hotline at (800) 669-9777.

A persistent problem

Housing discrimination continues to be a major hurdle for people trying to get out of poverty.

A recent study, co-authored by a Princeton University researcher, found tenant exploitation common in low-income neighborhoods, where tax burdens and property values are considerably lower – but rents are not.

State Senator Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, recently introduced a bill that would require real estate licensees to complete courses of study concerning fair housing and housing discrimination.

New Jersey has some of the highest housing costs in the country. The Garden State leads the nation in foreclosures, with 20,000 active foreclosures making their way through the courts.

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