Discrimination Against Mental or Physical Health Conditions in Wisconsin Apartments

Wisconsin and federal law give tenants strong protections when landlords discriminate against their mental or physical health conditions. Landlords are required to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants’ handicaps.

What’s Covered?

Wisconsin and federal law cover mental and physical health-related handicaps. A “health condition” is much broader than a diagnosed disease in official medical books. It can be any mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Conditions that may not obviously be a disability qualify for protection, such as a sports injury, hoarding tendencies, or paranoia. Of course, medically diagnosed conditions also qualify, such as HIV, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or bipolar disorder. The law also covers tenants that had a history of such an impairment and tenants who have been regarded as having such an impairment. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Wisconsin expands on federal protections by extending the protections in situations where the landlord discriminates based on a belief that the tenant has a disability when in reality, the tenant does not. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Landlords cannot discriminate against recovering addicts unless they are currently using or addicted to illegal drugs. Discrimination against alcoholics is illegal.

Reasonable Accommodations

Tenants may request reasonable accommodations for their disability. Tenants should request a specific change that would help in writing to ensure that there is a record of when the request was made. Landlords are required to provide reasonable accommodations to help tenants’ disability. For example, if a tenant breaks their leg, the tenant is likely entitled to a makeshift ramp to enter and exit their apartment (or another low-cost solution). If a tenant’s mental condition disturbs their neighbor, the tenant is often entitled to the option of moving to another vacant apartment in the building (so long as the cost is reasonable to the landlord). Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Modifications to Apartment

Tenants are entitled to make reasonable structural modifications to their apartment to suit their handicap or disability – landlords cannot typically say no. However, these modifications must be made at the tenant’s expense, along with the costs of restoring the apartment to its original state. Landlords are also allowed to charge an additional deposit to cover the cost in case the tenant fails to restore the apartment to its original state. Tenant’s Guide to Fair Housing (by HUD)

Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs

Service dogs and emotional support animals are always permitted, regardless of the landlord’s pet policy. In addition, animals may serve a reasonable accommodation for a tenant’s disability even if the animal has no special designation. For example, a deaf tenant may have a dog that will help alert them to smoke and fire dangers in lieu of auditory smoke alarms. Layman explanation from AAOA HUD Service and Assistance Animal Guidance

Asking About a Tenant’s Disability

It’s generally illegal for landlords to ask whether a tenant has a disability, the nature or severity of a handicap, what treatments or medications they take, or whether they have seen a psychiatrist. However, the landlord is permitted to inquire about the disability in the limited circumstances where the tenant is applying to housing set aside for people with disabilities or if the tenant is asking the landlord to make a reasonable accommodation for their disability. To determine the accommodations needed, landlords are allowed to ask about the nature of the disability. Tenant Resource Center on Renting with Disabilities

Exception for Dangerous Tenants

Wisconsin has an exception for tenants that may pose a direct threat to the safety of other tenants or persons on the property. For example, a landlord does not have to rent to a person who has a mental condition that makes them violent. Similarly, if a tenant is throwing things off their balcony due to a mental disorder, the landlord may decide to evict them despite their condition. However, to be safe, landlords should look for any reasonable accommodation that they can provide to the tenant (e.g., moving the tenant to a room without a balcony).

Enforcement

Tenants may report discrimination regarding mental or physical health conditions to the federal government directly. They also have the option in Wisconsin to report it to state authorities. Tenants may choose to report the problem to both.

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the federal government? The most recent year we have data is from 2016. In 2016, 63.4% (41.2% from Wisconsin) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 32 out of the 51 discrimination complaints from Wisconsin were about discrimination against those with mental or physical health conditions. 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 Wisconsin 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. Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 . Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

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 Wisconsin” 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.

Discrimination of Source of Income in Wisconsin Apartments

Wisconsin prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their source of income. While landlords are allowed to ask for proof of income and ability to pay, they cannot deny housing or charge a tenant a different amount based on their job. There are few exceptions for illegal sources of income.

“Immoral” Jobs

Discrimination against a tenant’s source of income usually arises when a tenant’s legal job appears immoral to the landlord or otherwise conflicts with their values. Strippers, people working at a political campaign, marijuana growers (in states where it’s legal), planned parenthood and NRA employees, and online personalities often face issues. In Wisconsin, denying a tenant for any of these reasons is a violation of the state’s fair housing protections. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Illegal Sources of Income

One major exception is that landlords can reject tenants whose current source of income is known to be illegal. For example, if the landlord knows that tenant is currently making their money as a drug dealer, a prostitute, or through robbery, they can safely deny that tenant. In addition, landlords can consider the harm that a tenant may cause to other tenants in the building. However, denying all applicants with a criminal history is illegal – see the section regarding criminal histories. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Perceived Job vs Actual Job

Wisconsin law clarifies that tenants are protected even if the landlord discriminates based on their mistaken perception of the tenant’s job. For example, a landlord might rejects a tenant because they learned they work at a strip club and assumed they are a stripper. If it turns out that the tenant was actually an accountant for the strip club, the landlord is still liable for discrimination even though they were not discriminating against the tenant’s actual job. Landlords in Wisconsin should simply avoid making decisions based on a tenant’s profession. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Section 8 Voucher Recipients

Some localities in Wisconsin prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants who are attempting to use Section 8 vouchers. In particular, these areas have laws prohibiting discrimination against voucher holders: Dane County. Landlords are always free to deny Section 8 applications for the same reasons they would deny any other tenant (e.g., for having a felony murder in their criminal history). To be safe from accusations of denying tenants based on their voucher, landlords should have a documented process that shows good reasons on why they rejected each tenant. Locations with Section 8 Discrimination Laws .

Criminal Record

Newly published guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that landlords cannot deny all applicants with criminal records due to the disparate impact on minority groups. First, the department distinguishes arrests and convictions. Denying housing based on mere arrests alone are discriminatory since innocent people can be cleared of charges. Landlords should be careful since most tenant screening software looks at arrest records, rather than convictions. When there is a conviction, landlords are prohibited from denying all tenants that have a conviction. Landlords must look at the particular applicant, how long ago the crime was, and what the person has done recently. In other words, blanket bans of tenants with criminal records are now illegal and landlords should implement a policy of having conversations with convicts to determine whether they are dangerous. Tenants can report such issues here . Layman Summary , HUD Guidance .

Enforcement

Because discrimination by source of income is only protected by the state, tenants must report issues to the state government, not the Dept of Housing and Urban Development. If a landlord is discriminating based on a tenant’s housing voucher status, the tenant should report it to the state or local government that authorized such protections.

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of Wisconsin 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. Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 . Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

If landlords are discriminating based on one’s criminal history or their housing voucher status, tenants should report it to the federal government. They can also report it their state or local government as well. What happens when a tenant reports a problem to 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

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 Wisconsin” 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.

Discrimination Against Mental or Physical Health Conditions in Wyoming Apartments

Wyoming and federal law give tenants strong protections when landlords discriminate against their mental or physical health conditions. Landlords are required to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants’ handicaps.

What’s Covered?

Wyoming and federal law cover mental and physical health-related handicaps. A “health condition” is much broader than a diagnosed disease in official medical books. It can be any mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Conditions that may not obviously be a disability qualify for protection, such as a sports injury, hoarding tendencies, or paranoia. Of course, medically diagnosed conditions also qualify, such as HIV, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or bipolar disorder. The law also covers tenants that had a history of such an impairment and tenants who have been regarded as having such an impairment. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-103 .

Wyoming expands on federal protections by extending the protections in situations where the landlord discriminates based on a belief that the tenant has a disability when in reality, the tenant does not. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-103 .

Landlords cannot discriminate against recovering addicts unless they are currently using or addicted to illegal drugs. Discrimination against alcoholics is illegal.

Reasonable Accommodations

Tenants may request reasonable accommodations for their disability. Tenants should request a specific change that would help in writing to ensure that there is a record of when the request was made. Landlords are required to provide reasonable accommodations to help tenants’ disability. For example, if a tenant breaks their leg, the tenant is likely entitled to a makeshift ramp to enter and exit their apartment (or another low-cost solution). If a tenant’s mental condition disturbs their neighbor, the tenant is often entitled to the option of moving to another vacant apartment in the building (so long as the cost is reasonable to the landlord). Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-103 .

Modifications to Apartment

Tenants are entitled to make reasonable structural modifications to their apartment to suit their handicap or disability – landlords cannot typically say no. However, these modifications must be made at the tenant’s expense, along with the costs of restoring the apartment to its original state. Landlords are also allowed to charge an additional deposit to cover the cost in case the tenant fails to restore the apartment to its original state. Tenant’s Guide to Fair Housing (by HUD)

Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs

Service dogs and emotional support animals are always permitted, regardless of the landlord’s pet policy. In addition, animals may serve a reasonable accommodation for a tenant’s disability even if the animal has no special designation. For example, a deaf tenant may have a dog that will help alert them to smoke and fire dangers in lieu of auditory smoke alarms. Layman explanation from AAOA HUD Service and Assistance Animal Guidance

Asking About a Tenant’s Disability

It’s generally illegal for landlords to ask whether a tenant has a disability, the nature or severity of a handicap, what treatments or medications they take, or whether they have seen a psychiatrist. However, the landlord is permitted to inquire about the disability in the limited circumstances where the tenant is applying to housing set aside for people with disabilities or if the tenant is asking the landlord to make a reasonable accommodation for their disability. To determine the accommodations needed, landlords are allowed to ask about the nature of the disability. Tenant Resource Center on Renting with Disabilities

Exception for Dangerous Tenants

Wyoming has an exception for tenants that may pose a direct threat to the safety of other tenants or persons on the property. For example, a landlord does not have to rent to a person who has a mental condition that makes them violent. Similarly, if a tenant is throwing things off their balcony due to a mental disorder, the landlord may decide to evict them despite their condition. However, to be safe, landlords should look for any reasonable accommodation that they can provide to the tenant (e.g., moving the tenant to a room without a balcony).

Exemptions for Second Homes

Wyoming includes an exception intended for landlords who are renting out their second homes. The law is intended to reduce the compliance burden for such non-professional landlords. Specifically, landlords who rent fewer than 4 single-family houses do not have to abide by most of the discrimination laws.

Such exemptions do not typically apply to discriminatory advertising (e.g., “Only accepting tenants over 40”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager.

Wyo. Stat. 40-26-103 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-110 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Wyoming has an exception called the “Murphy Rule”, which is intended to allow landlords to rent out extra rooms in their home without a large compliance burden. If the apartment is in the landlord’s own residence, then the landlord is free to discriminate regarding whom they rent to. This exception only applies to smaller homes, specifically where the house or building has four or fewer apartment units.

This exemption does not typically apply to advertising (e.g., “Only accepting white tenants”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager or other real estate professional. Some states may have additional see restrictions. See state law for more details.

Wyo. Stat. 40-26-103 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-110 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report discrimination regarding mental or physical health conditions to the federal government directly. They also have the option in Wyoming to report it to state authorities. Tenants may choose to report the problem to both.

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the federal government? The most recent year we have data is from 2016. In 2016, 63.4% (55.6% from Wyoming) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 9 out of the 9 discrimination complaints from Wyoming were about discrimination against those with mental or physical health conditions. 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 Wyoming 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. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-137 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-132 . In addition, landlords may receive a misdemeanor criminal charge in certain cases, especially for severe cases or repeat offenders. This may result in some jail time. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-137 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-132 .

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 Wyoming” 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.

Discrimination of Source of Income in Wyoming Apartments

Wyoming does not protect tenants from landlords who deny an apartment application based on the type of job they have. There are few exceptions when the job is related to the tenant’s gender, race, religion, or other protected categories under the Fair Housing Act. Some states, counties, and cities may block landlords from discriminating against Section 8 Voucher tenant applicants and landlords should know it’s illegal to have a blanket policy of denying all applicants with a criminal record.

Section 8 Voucher Recipients

Wyoming does not prohibit landlords from denying tenants because they are a Section 8 voucher holder. To the best of our research, we did not find any cities or counties in this state that prohibit denying voucher holders. However, a few states and cities are considering such a prohibition so please check back periodically. Locations with Section 8 Discrimination Laws .

Criminal Record

Newly published guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that landlords cannot deny all applicants with criminal records due to the disparate impact on minority groups. First, the department distinguishes arrests and convictions. Denying housing based on mere arrests alone are discriminatory since innocent people can be cleared of charges. Landlords should be careful since most tenant screening software looks at arrest records, rather than convictions. When there is a conviction, landlords are prohibited from denying all tenants that have a conviction. Landlords must look at the particular applicant, how long ago the crime was, and what the person has done recently. In other words, blanket bans of tenants with criminal records are now illegal and landlords should implement a policy of having conversations with convicts to determine whether they are dangerous. Tenants can report such issues here . Layman Summary , HUD Guidance .

Enforcement

If a landlord is discriminating based on a tenant’s housing voucher status, the tenant should report it to the state or local government that authorized such protections.

Exemptions for Second Homes

Wyoming includes an exception intended for landlords who are renting out their second homes. The law is intended to reduce the compliance burden for such non-professional landlords. Specifically, landlords who rent fewer than 4 single-family houses do not have to abide by most of the discrimination laws.

Such exemptions do not typically apply to discriminatory advertising (e.g., “Only accepting tenants over 40”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager.

Wyo. Stat. 40-26-103 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-110 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Wyoming has an exception called the “Murphy Rule”, which is intended to allow landlords to rent out extra rooms in their home without a large compliance burden. If the apartment is in the landlord’s own residence, then the landlord is free to discriminate regarding whom they rent to. This exception only applies to smaller homes, specifically where the house or building has four or fewer apartment units.

This exemption does not typically apply to advertising (e.g., “Only accepting white tenants”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager or other real estate professional. Some states may have additional see restrictions. See state law for more details.

Wyo. Stat. 40-26-103 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-110 .

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of Wyoming 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. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-137 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-132 . In addition, landlords may receive a misdemeanor criminal charge in certain cases, especially for severe cases or repeat offenders. This may result in some jail time. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-137 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-132 .

If landlords are discriminating based on one’s criminal history or their housing voucher status, tenants should report it to the federal government. They can also report it their state or local government as well. What happens when a tenant reports a problem to 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

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 Wyoming” 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.

Age Discrimination in Wisconsin Apartments

Discrimination based on age is prohibited in Wisconsin. This means that landlords cannot discriminate against the tenant on the basis of age . All ages are covered in Wisconsin. The Fair Housing Act covers discrimination against children and the state’s protection against age discrimination protects anyone 18 and over.

Elderly

Landlords are prohibited from discriminating based on age in Wisconsin and this includes against the elderly. Discrimination is defined broadly and covers refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s age, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s age, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their age, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their age, denying an apartment or application based on their age, evicting a tenant based on their age, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their age, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their age, building a place that is inaccessible, denying a loan based on their age, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on age, and pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain age in the neighborhood. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

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. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

One major exception: Wisconsin allows apartments that are intended for the elderly are permitted to only accept elderly people and be advertised as such. In other words, landlords are free to discriminate based on age or familial status in elderly homes. This is intended to protect the existence of elderly homes and elderly assistance programs. If there is a building with tenants of a mixed age, this exception will most likely not apply and it does not cover other forms of discrimination. Wis. Admin. Code DWD 220.03 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Young Adults

“Age” is not defined under the law and therefore, the anti-discrimination laws presumably apply to all groups. This means that landlords with beliefs that young adults or students are rowdier will genearlly violate the law if they treat them differently. This includes advertising a place as being “student-only housing”, “students preferred”, or “no students allowed.” Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Discrimination is defined extremely broadly and also includes denying a loan based on their age, denying an apartment or application based on their age, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s age, evicting a tenant based on their age, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain age in the neighborhood, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s age, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on age, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their age, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their age, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their age, building a place that is inaccessible, and advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their age.

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. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

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. Wisconsin 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. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

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 has a choice of whether to report the problem to Wisconsin authorities or federal authorities (or both). It’s generally best for tenants to notify both authorities where possible, but they will most likely get a faster response from the state.

If the issue involves discrimination against adults , then the victim must report it to Wisconsin 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% (41.2% from Wisconsin) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 8 out of the 51 discrimination complaints from Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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. Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 . Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

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 Wisconsin” 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.

Age Discrimination in Wyoming Apartments

Wyoming does not directly prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their age. However, landlords should be careful to avoid discriminating against children and families (whom are protected under federal and state law). Additionally, discriminating against a senior because of their disability is prohibited under federal and state fair housing law which protects those with mental and physical health conditions.

Segregating by Age

A typical technique by landlords to minimize conflict between tenants is to group sections of buildings or advertise units for certain ages. For example, a landlord may advertise a trendy and loud neighborhood to younger tenants. A landlord might list a home in a quiet neighborhood is best for the elderly. Wyoming landlords are free to advertise units as ideal for certain age groups and to deny housing to people who do not fit those criteria since there is no law prohibiting discrimination by age.

Elderly

Wyoming has no direct protections against landlords discriminating against the elderly. This means, for the most part, landlords are free to put (and advertise) age restrictions on buildings, to separate the elderly from other tenants, and to charge the elderly more for rent or other services.

However, Wyoming has a related law that may protect the elderly. The state protects tenants from discrimination against perceived mental or physical health conditions. This likely covers situations where a landlord discriminates against the elderly because they believe they are more likely to have disabilities or special needs.

Young Adults

In Wyoming, young adults and college students are not protected from discrimination by landlords based on their age. This allows landlords to charge higher rent to students (or inversely, lower rent to older tenants), to prohibit students from renting, to advertise units as being unavailable to students, or to otherwise treat students as a high-risk tenant.

Children and Families

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against children, families, and pregnant women in Wyoming (and all US states). Due to this anti-discrimination law, Wyoming landlords cannot designate an apartment as being suitable for children, charge different rents or prices to families, advertise that there’s a preference for tenants without children, or prevent children from accessing the same amenities and facilities as adults (e.g., a sign that says, “no children in the laundry area”).

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 has a choice of whether to report the problem to Wyoming authorities or federal authorities (or both). It’s generally best for tenants to notify both authorities where possible, but they will most likely get a faster response from the state.

Apart from cases involving children, Wyoming does not protect directly protect discrimination based on a tenant’s age and neither does the federal government. Therefore, adults and the elderly have no remedy in Wyoming when landlords treat them differently due to their age.

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% (55.6% from Wyoming) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 0 out of the 9 discrimination complaints from Wyoming 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 Wyoming 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. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-137 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-132 . In addition, landlords may receive a misdemeanor criminal charge in certain cases, especially for severe cases or repeat offenders. This may result in some jail time. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-137 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-132 .

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 Wyoming” 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.

Discrimination Against Mental or Physical Health Conditions in Virginia Apartments

Virginia and federal law give tenants strong protections when landlords discriminate against their mental or physical health conditions. Landlords are required to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants’ handicaps.

What’s Covered?

Virginia and federal law cover mental and physical health-related handicaps. A “health condition” is much broader than a diagnosed disease in official medical books. It can be any mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Conditions that may not obviously be a disability qualify for protection, such as a sports injury, hoarding tendencies, or paranoia. Of course, medically diagnosed conditions also qualify, such as HIV, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or bipolar disorder. The law also covers tenants that had a history of such an impairment and tenants who have been regarded as having such an impairment. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Virginia expands on federal protections by extending the protections in situations where the landlord discriminates based on a belief that the tenant has a disability when in reality, the tenant does not. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Landlords cannot discriminate against recovering addicts unless they are currently using or addicted to illegal drugs. Discrimination against alcoholics is illegal.

Reasonable Accommodations

Tenants may request reasonable accommodations for their disability. Tenants should request a specific change that would help in writing to ensure that there is a record of when the request was made. Landlords are required to provide reasonable accommodations to help tenants’ disability. For example, if a tenant breaks their leg, the tenant is likely entitled to a makeshift ramp to enter and exit their apartment (or another low-cost solution). If a tenant’s mental condition disturbs their neighbor, the tenant is often entitled to the option of moving to another vacant apartment in the building (so long as the cost is reasonable to the landlord). 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Modifications to Apartment

Tenants are entitled to make reasonable structural modifications to their apartment to suit their handicap or disability – landlords cannot typically say no. However, these modifications must be made at the tenant’s expense, along with the costs of restoring the apartment to its original state. Landlords are also allowed to charge an additional deposit to cover the cost in case the tenant fails to restore the apartment to its original state. Tenant’s Guide to Fair Housing (by HUD)

Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs

Service dogs and emotional support animals are always permitted, regardless of the landlord’s pet policy. In addition, animals may serve a reasonable accommodation for a tenant’s disability even if the animal has no special designation. For example, a deaf tenant may have a dog that will help alert them to smoke and fire dangers in lieu of auditory smoke alarms. Layman explanation from AAOA HUD Service and Assistance Animal Guidance

Asking About a Tenant’s Disability

It’s generally illegal for landlords to ask whether a tenant has a disability, the nature or severity of a handicap, what treatments or medications they take, or whether they have seen a psychiatrist. However, the landlord is permitted to inquire about the disability in the limited circumstances where the tenant is applying to housing set aside for people with disabilities or if the tenant is asking the landlord to make a reasonable accommodation for their disability. To determine the accommodations needed, landlords are allowed to ask about the nature of the disability. Tenant Resource Center on Renting with Disabilities

Exception for Dangerous Tenants

Virginia has an exception for tenants that may pose a direct threat to the safety of other tenants or persons on the property. For example, a landlord does not have to rent to a person who has a mental condition that makes them violent. Similarly, if a tenant is throwing things off their balcony due to a mental disorder, the landlord may decide to evict them despite their condition. However, to be safe, landlords should look for any reasonable accommodation that they can provide to the tenant (e.g., moving the tenant to a room without a balcony).

Exemptions for Second Homes

Virginia includes an exception intended for landlords who are renting out their second homes. The law is intended to reduce the compliance burden for such non-professional landlords. Specifically, landlords who rent fewer than 4 single-family houses do not have to abide by most of the discrimination laws.

Such exemptions do not typically apply to discriminatory advertising (e.g., “Only accepting tenants over 40”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Virginia has an exception called the “Murphy Rule”, which is intended to allow landlords to rent out extra rooms in their home without a large compliance burden. If the apartment is in the landlord’s own residence, then the landlord is free to discriminate regarding whom they rent to. This exception only applies to smaller homes, specifically where the house or building has four or fewer apartment units.

This exemption does not typically apply to advertising (e.g., “Only accepting white tenants”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager or other real estate professional. Some states may have additional see restrictions. See state law for more details.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report discrimination regarding mental or physical health conditions to the federal government directly. They also have the option in Virginia to report it to state authorities. Tenants may choose to report the problem to both.

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the federal government? The most recent year we have data is from 2016. In 2016, 63.4% (61.1% from Virginia) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 53 out of the 90 discrimination complaints from Virginia were about discrimination against those with mental or physical health conditions. 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 Virginia 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. Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 . Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 .

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 Virginia” 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. 7 such cases were filed with the federal government from in last year we have data (2016). Data.gov. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

Age Discrimination in Virginia Apartments

Discrimination based on age is prohibited in Virginia. This means that landlords cannot discriminate against the tenant on the basis of age Virginiadwhich is defined as someone 55 and over. Additionally, children and families are also protected from discrimination.

Elderly

Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against people older than 55 in Virginia. Discrimination is defined broadly and covers evicting a tenant based on their age, restrictive covenants based on age, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their age, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their age, refusing to provide municipal services based on age, denying an apartment or application based on their age, denying a loan based on their age, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their age, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s age, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their age, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on age, building a place that is inaccessible, discouraging tenants by renting by saying people of a certain age live in the neighborhood, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s age, and pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain age in the neighborhood. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

These protections extend to discrimination of a person’s perceived age. Thus, if a landlord believed a person was over 55 but they are not, it would still be discriminatory to treat them differently. 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. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

One major exception: Virginia allows apartments that are intended for the elderly are permitted to only accept elderly people and be advertised as such. In other words, landlords are free to discriminate based on age or familial status in elderly homes. This is intended to protect the existence of elderly homes and elderly assistance programs. If there is a building with tenants of a mixed age, this exception will most likely not apply and it does not cover other forms of discrimination. Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Young Adults

discrimination based on age only covers people 55 and over in Virginia. Therefore, young adults and college students are not covered. Landlords are free to deny housing, charge higher rent, provide different amenities, or otherwise treat adults between 18 and 55 less favorably than other age groups.

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. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

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. Virginia 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. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Exemptions for Second Homes

Virginia includes an exception intended for landlords who are renting out their second homes. The law is intended to reduce the compliance burden for such non-professional landlords. Specifically, landlords who rent fewer than 4 single-family houses do not have to abide by most of the discrimination laws.

Such exemptions do not typically apply to discriminatory advertising (e.g., “Only accepting tenants over 40”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Virginia has an exception called the “Murphy Rule”, which is intended to allow landlords to rent out extra rooms in their home without a large compliance burden. If the apartment is in the landlord’s own residence, then the landlord is free to discriminate regarding whom they rent to. This exception only applies to smaller homes, specifically where the house or building has four or fewer apartment units.

This exemption does not typically apply to advertising (e.g., “Only accepting white tenants”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager or other real estate professional. Some states may have additional see restrictions. See state law for more details.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

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 has a choice of whether to report the problem to Virginia authorities or federal authorities (or both). It’s generally best for tenants to notify both authorities where possible, but they will most likely get a faster response from the state.

If the issue involves discrimination against someone over 55 , then the victim must report it to Virginia 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% (61.1% from Virginia) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 8 out of the 90 discrimination complaints from Virginia 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 Virginia 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. Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 . Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 .

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 Virginia” 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. 7 such cases were filed with the federal government from in last year we have data (2016). Data.gov. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

Discrimination of Source of Income in Virginia Apartments

Virginia does not protect tenants from landlords who deny an apartment application based on the type of job they have. There are few exceptions when the job is related to the tenant’s gender, race, religion, or other protected categories under the Fair Housing Act. Some states, counties, and cities may block landlords from discriminating against Section 8 Voucher tenant applicants and landlords should know it’s illegal to have a blanket policy of denying all applicants with a criminal record.

Section 8 Voucher Recipients

Virginia does not prohibit landlords from denying tenants because they are a Section 8 voucher holder. To the best of our research, we did not find any cities or counties in this state that prohibit denying voucher holders. However, a few states and cities are considering such a prohibition so please check back periodically. Locations with Section 8 Discrimination Laws .

Criminal Record

Newly published guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that landlords cannot deny all applicants with criminal records due to the disparate impact on minority groups. First, the department distinguishes arrests and convictions. Denying housing based on mere arrests alone are discriminatory since innocent people can be cleared of charges. Landlords should be careful since most tenant screening software looks at arrest records, rather than convictions. When there is a conviction, landlords are prohibited from denying all tenants that have a conviction. Landlords must look at the particular applicant, how long ago the crime was, and what the person has done recently. In other words, blanket bans of tenants with criminal records are now illegal and landlords should implement a policy of having conversations with convicts to determine whether they are dangerous. Tenants can report such issues here . Layman Summary , HUD Guidance .

Enforcement

If a landlord is discriminating based on a tenant’s housing voucher status, the tenant should report it to the state or local government that authorized such protections.

Exemptions for Second Homes

Virginia includes an exception intended for landlords who are renting out their second homes. The law is intended to reduce the compliance burden for such non-professional landlords. Specifically, landlords who rent fewer than 4 single-family houses do not have to abide by most of the discrimination laws.

Such exemptions do not typically apply to discriminatory advertising (e.g., “Only accepting tenants over 40”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Virginia has an exception called the “Murphy Rule”, which is intended to allow landlords to rent out extra rooms in their home without a large compliance burden. If the apartment is in the landlord’s own residence, then the landlord is free to discriminate regarding whom they rent to. This exception only applies to smaller homes, specifically where the house or building has four or fewer apartment units.

This exemption does not typically apply to advertising (e.g., “Only accepting white tenants”) or where the landlord uses a professional property manager or other real estate professional. Some states may have additional see restrictions. See state law for more details.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of Virginia 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. Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 . Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 .

If landlords are discriminating based on one’s criminal history or their housing voucher status, tenants should report it to the federal government. They can also report it their state or local government as well. What happens when a tenant reports a problem to 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

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 Virginia” 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. 7 such cases were filed with the federal government from in last year we have data (2016). Data.gov. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

Age Discrimination in Washington Apartments

Washington does not directly prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their age. However, landlords should be careful to avoid discriminating against children and families (whom are protected under federal and state law). Additionally, discriminating against a senior because of their disability is prohibited under federal and state fair housing law which protects those with mental and physical health conditions.

Segregating by Age

A typical technique by landlords to minimize conflict between tenants is to group sections of buildings or advertise units for certain ages. For example, a landlord may advertise a trendy and loud neighborhood to younger tenants. A landlord might list a home in a quiet neighborhood is best for the elderly. Washington landlords are free to advertise units as ideal for certain age groups and to deny housing to people who do not fit those criteria since there is no law prohibiting discrimination by age.

Elderly

Washington has no direct protections against landlords discriminating against the elderly. This means, for the most part, landlords are free to put (and advertise) age restrictions on buildings, to separate the elderly from other tenants, and to charge the elderly more for rent or other services.

However, Washington has a related law that may protect the elderly. The state protects tenants from discrimination against perceived mental or physical health conditions. This likely covers situations where a landlord discriminates against the elderly because they believe they are more likely to have disabilities or special needs.

Young Adults

In Washington, young adults and college students are not protected from discrimination by landlords based on their age. This allows landlords to charge higher rent to students (or inversely, lower rent to older tenants), to prohibit students from renting, to advertise units as being unavailable to students, or to otherwise treat students as a high-risk tenant.

Children and Families

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against children, families, and pregnant women in Washington (and all US states). Due to this anti-discrimination law, Washington landlords cannot designate an apartment as being suitable for children, charge different rents or prices to families, advertise that there’s a preference for tenants without children, or prevent children from accessing the same amenities and facilities as adults (e.g., a sign that says, “no children in the laundry area”).

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 has a choice of whether to report the problem to Washington authorities or federal authorities (or both). It’s generally best for tenants to notify both authorities where possible, but they will most likely get a faster response from the state.

Apart from cases involving children, Washington does not protect directly protect discrimination based on a tenant’s age and neither does the federal government. Therefore, adults and the elderly have no remedy in Washington when landlords treat them differently due to their age.

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% (57.3% from Washington) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 20 out of the 171 discrimination complaints from Washington 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 Washington 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. Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.225 . In addition, landlords may receive a misdemeanor criminal charge in certain cases, especially for severe cases or repeat offenders. This may result in some jail time. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.310 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.225 .

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 Washington” 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. 14 such cases were filed with the federal government from in last year we have data (2016). Data.gov. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.