Age Discrimination in Alaska Apartments

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Discrimination based on age is prohibited in Alaska. This means that landlords cannot discriminate against the tenant on the basis of age . “Age” is not defined by the law and thus is presumed to cover all ages. Additionally, children and families are explicitly protected from discrimination.

Elderly

Landlords are prohibited from discriminating based on age in Alaska and this includes against the elderly. However, discrimination is defined narrowly under the law. The only things that constitute age discrimination in Alaska are refusing to allow inspections to the elderly and making false statements about housing availability to the elderly. See Alaska Stat. Sec. 18.80.240(5). Alaska Stat. 18.80.240 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.250 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.300 .

These protections extend to discrimination of a person’s perceived age. For example, an email may be written in a way that makes a 30-year old seem older and the landlord may have denied their application based on the belief that they are over 60. This would still be discrimination. Alaska Stat. 18.80.240 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.250 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.300 .

Young Adults

Alaska’s Fair Housing Law protects young adults from age discrimination. However, age discrimination is defined narrowly under the law. The only things that constitute age discrimination in Alaska are refusing to allow inspections (based on someone’s age) and making false statements about housing availability to someone because of their age. See Alaska Stat. Sec. 18.80.240(5) Alaska Stat. 18.80.240 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.250 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.300 .

Children

Landlords cannot treat children or families with children differently. It’s prohibited by federal law under the Fair Housing Act as discrimination based on “familial status”. This includes denying housing, advertising a unit as “no children allowed”, charging different rent, placing families in certain parts of the building, and denying access to facilities or amenities. This includes prohibiting children from using facilities, such as laundry rooms or pools. Alaska Stat. 18.80.240 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.250 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.300 .

Children are also protected by this state’s own fair housing law, which offers similar protections. This gives tenants the opportunity to report the issue to state or local authorities, in addition to federal authorities. Alaska law expands the protections to situations where the tenant is discriminated against because of the mistaken belief that they are a child. So if, for example, a landlord denies housing to someone because they thought they were under 18 but in actuality, they were not, that would be illegal under state law. Tenants should report such issues to state authorities. These protections apply even the person is not actually a child, but the landlord acted in a discriminatory way based on a belief that they are under 18. Alaska Stat. 18.80.240 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.250 , Alaska Stat. 18.80.300 .

Enforcement

The consequences are different based on whether the discrimination is against children or adults.

If the discrimination was against children or familial status, the tenant may report the problem to federal authorities at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It can be done online or via phone.

If the issue involves discrimination against adults , then the victim must report it to Alaska authorities because there is no federal protection for age discrimination.

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the federal government? The most recent year we have data is from 2016. In 2016, HUD addressed 63.4% (20.0% from Alaska) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 1 out of the 10 discrimination complaints from Alaska concerned discrimination against children or familial status (age discrimination is not otherwise enforced by the federal government). Landlords that violate the federal Fair Housing Act can face civil penalties up to $16,000 for a first violation and $65,000 for future violations (each act of discrimination is a separate violation). In cases where the Justice Department is involved, civil penalties may rise to $100,000 per violation and federal courts can add additional damages. Landlords should also keep in mind the time and costs involved in defending against an action by the federal government. About 36% of complaints end up with a charge or settlement, based on 2016 data. Data.gov

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of Alaska or a local government? They may ask the tenant for information to help bring the case, including any evidence (e.g., emails and pictures). If the government finds there’s sufficient information between the tenant’s complaint (as well as complaints from other tenants), the landlord may be charged and taken to court to defend themselves. Landlords will likely receive fines if they lose. The amount of the fines will be determined in part by the severity of the issue. Fines increase significantly for repeat offenders. In addition, landlords may serve prison time for severe cases, as Alaska considers discriminatory practices a criminal act in some cases. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Alaska Stat. Sec. 18.80.270 .

Reporting a Violation

Tenants may report violations of federal laws (i.e., discrimination against children and families) through the HUD website – it can be done online or via phone. Tenants can report issues to their state government by looking at the state website. A google search for “report fair housing violation in Alaska” will likely provide applicable information. In either case, tenants may be able to call the number on the page to ask whether their situation legally qualifies as rental discrimination.

Retaliation by the Landlord

Federal law (the https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaintFair Housing Act ) makes it illegal for landlords to harass a tenant in retaliation for reporting a problem. Examples of such harassment may include raising the rent or threatening to evict the tenant. Each such attempt is an additional violation. These protections do not apply if the tenant complained about something that they don’t have right to, so tenants should know whether it’s a violation. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

By |September 12th, 2018|AK|