The Chicago Association of REALTORS® fully supports the practice of equal opportunity in Fair Housing. For questions on Fair Housing or Professional Standards, please contact Amanda Withrow, Senior Director of Member Care and Professional Standards.
This April marks the 48th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act. In recognition of Fair Housing month, the following are some reminders of proper practices while acting as a REALTOR®, as well as new information which you need to know on the screening of potential buyers and tenants.
Can I decide not to take tenants who hold Section 8 vouchers?
Section 8 voucher holders are now a protected class under both Cook County’s and City of Chicago Fair Housing laws. Violating Fair Housing laws as a REALTOR® could also rise to the level of an Article 10 violation of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics.
Article 10 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics provides that:
“REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
Does military status mean you are a protected class?
Yes. As of March 16, 2016, the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance now prohibits discrimination based on military status in housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, and bonding. Military status includes active duty military personnel, reservists, members of the National Guard and veterans. The new amendment also encompasses military discharge.
What language can I use to describe a property, and what do I need to avoid?
Keep in mind when advertising, it is important to focus on the characteristics of the actual property and not the characteristics of likely buyers. For example, “studio apartment” is preferred over “perfect for a single person.” You also want to steer clear of words that signify color or race. Do not mention religion i.e. “church nearby.” A better, more neutral way to state this is, “places of worship nearby.” Any advertising with photographs should show a diverse group of people.
For more detailed information on advertising, click here.
How can I craft criminal history-based practices and policies without violating HUD guidelines?
In response to a disparate impact claim which was heard last summer in front of the Supreme Court, HUD urges housing providers to exercise caution when implementing criminal history policies or practices used to make housing decisions. HUD’s guidance does not preclude housing providers from crafting criminal history-based policies or practices, but the guidance makes evident that housing providers should create thoughtful policies and practices that are tailored to serve a substantial, legitimate, and nondiscriminatory interest of the housing provider, such as resident safety or the protection of property.
A Salute to Fair Housing Videos & Slides
Housing Choice Voucher Program At-A-Glance
Chicago’s Fair Housing Ordinance