Discrimination Against Mental or Physical Health Conditions in Washington Apartments

Washington 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?

Washington 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. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

Washington 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. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

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). Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

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

Washington’s housing law does not have an exception for when a tenant’s mental health condition may cause a direct threat to another tenant.

Exemptions for Second Homes

Washington 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.

Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Washington 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.

Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report discrimination regarding mental or physical health conditions to the federal government directly. They also have the option in Washington 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% (57.3% from Washington) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 101 out of the 171 discrimination complaints from Washington 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 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.

Age Discrimination in West Virginia Apartments

West Virginia 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. West Virginia 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

West Virginia 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, West Virginia 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 West Virginia, 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 West Virginia (and all US states). Due to this anti-discrimination law, West Virginia 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 West 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.

Apart from cases involving children, West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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% (25.0% from West Virginia) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 0 out of the 16 discrimination complaints from West 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 West 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. W. Va. Code 5-11 , W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 . W. Va. Code 5-11 , W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

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 West 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. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

Discrimination of Source of Income in Washington Apartments

Washington 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

Some localities in Washington 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: Seattle, King County, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Tumwater, Vancounver, Madison. 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

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

Washington 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.

Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Washington 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.

Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 .

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 .

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 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.

Discrimination Against Mental or Physical Health Conditions in West Virginia Apartments

West 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?

West 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. W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

West 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. W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

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). W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

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

West 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

West 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.

W. Va. Code 5-11 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

West 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.

W. Va. Code 5-11 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report discrimination regarding mental or physical health conditions to the federal government directly. They also have the option in West 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% (25.0% from West Virginia) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 14 out of the 16 discrimination complaints from West 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 West 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. W. Va. Code 5-11 , W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 . W. Va. Code 5-11 , W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

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 West 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. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

Discrimination of Source of Income in West Virginia Apartments

West 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

West 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

West 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.

W. Va. Code 5-11 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

West 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.

W. Va. Code 5-11 .

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of West 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. W. Va. Code 5-11 , W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 . W. Va. Code 5-11 , W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

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 West 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. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

Discrimination Against Mental or Physical Health Conditions in Utah Apartments

Utah 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?

Utah 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. Utah Code 57-21-7 , Utah Code Sec.57-21-5 .

Utah 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. Utah Code 57-21-7 , Utah Code Sec.57-21-5 .

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). Utah Code 57-21-7 , Utah Code Sec.57-21-5 .

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

Utah’s housing law does not have an exception for when a tenant’s mental health condition may cause a direct threat to another tenant.

Exemptions for Second Homes

Utah 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.

Utah Code 57-21-3 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Utah 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.

Utah Code 57-21-3 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report discrimination regarding mental or physical health conditions to the federal government directly. They also have the option in Utah 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% (59.7% from Utah) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 59 out of the 67 discrimination complaints from Utah 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 Utah 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. Utah Code Sec. 57-21-11 . Utah Code Sec. 57-21-11 .

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 Utah” 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. 10 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 Utah Apartments

Utah 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 Utah, denying a tenant for any of these reasons is a violation of the state’s fair housing protections. Utah Code 57-21-7 , Utah Code Sec.57-21-5 .

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. Utah Code 57-21-7 , Utah Code Sec.57-21-5 .

Perceived Job vs Actual Job

Utah 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 Utah should simply avoid making decisions based on a tenant’s profession. Utah Code 57-21-7 , Utah Code Sec.57-21-5 .

Section 8 Voucher Recipients

Utah prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants who are attempting to use Section 8 vouchers. 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.

Exemptions for Second Homes

Utah 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.

Utah Code 57-21-3 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Utah 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.

Utah Code 57-21-3 .

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of Utah 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. Utah Code Sec. 57-21-11 . Utah Code Sec. 57-21-11 .

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 Utah” 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. 10 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 Against Mental or Physical Health Conditions in Vermont Apartments

Vermont 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?

Vermont 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. Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4503 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4506 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4503 .

Vermont 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. Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4503 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4506 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4503 .

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). Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4503 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4506 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4503 .

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

Vermont 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).

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Vermont 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.

Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4503 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4504 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report discrimination regarding mental or physical health conditions to the federal government directly. They also have the option in Vermont 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% (54.5% from Vermont) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 10 out of the 11 discrimination complaints from Vermont 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 Vermont 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. Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4507 . Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4507 .

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 Vermont” 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 Utah Apartments

Utah 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. Utah 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

Utah 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, Utah 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 Utah, 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 Utah (and all US states). Due to this anti-discrimination law, Utah 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 Utah 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, Utah 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 Utah 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% (59.7% from Utah) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 3 out of the 67 discrimination complaints from Utah 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 Utah 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. Utah Code Sec. 57-21-11 . Utah Code Sec. 57-21-11 .

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 Utah” 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. 10 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 Vermont Apartments

Vermont 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 Vermont, denying a tenant for any of these reasons is a violation of the state’s fair housing protections. Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4503 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4506 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4503 .

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. Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4503 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4506 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4503 .

Perceived Job vs Actual Job

Vermont 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 Vermont should simply avoid making decisions based on a tenant’s profession. Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4503 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4506 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4503 .

Section 8 Voucher Recipients

Vermont prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants who are attempting to use Section 8 vouchers. 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.

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Vermont 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.

Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4503 , Vt. Stat. tit. 9, 4504 .

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of Vermont 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. Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4507 . Vt. Stat. tit. 9, Sec. 4507 .

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 Vermont” 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.