Sex, Gender, and LGBT-Based Discrimination in West Virginia Apartments

West Virginia law (and federal law) protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. This covers everything from offering lower rent for sexual favors to advertising men or women only apartments. West Virginia has no explicit protections for LGBT tenants, but federal and state protections against discriminating by one’s gender offers some indirect protections in certain cases. To be safe, landlords should be careful about treating LGBT tenants differently.

Sexism

West Virginia law and federal law protect tenants from discrimination based on their sex (e.g., male, female). This protects tenants from most kinds of sexist acts, including advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sex, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sex in the neighborhood, building a place that is inaccessible, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sex, denying a loan based on their sex, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their sex, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sex, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sex, denying an apartment or application based on their sex, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s sex, and refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sex. Most commonly, setting different guest policies for women, advertising an apartment for men or women only, and offering a reduction in rent for sexual favors all constitute discrimination based on one’s sex or gender. Typically, apartments with shared common areas (e.g., apartment with roommates or suitemates) are exempt. W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

Sexual Orientation

West Virginia does not have a law to specifically protect tenants from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. But tenants may have some protection under laws banning discrimination based on one’s sex. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. Do these protections apply to discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation (since one’s sexual orientation arguably involves one’s sex or gender)? It’s unclear in West Virginia and depends on the circumstance. Other states have ruled in conflicting ways on this issue. A few of the US Circuits have ruled that sexual orientation is covered under the federal or state rule prohibiting gender discrimination (see Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College and more recently, Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community ). Other states have ruled the opposite Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp. . The issue could ultimately be decided either way in West Virginia.

Gender Identity

West Virginia offers no direct protection from discrimination against tenants who identify as a different gender than their biological sex. However, tenants may be able to rely on federal or state protections that prohibit landlords from discriminating against one’s sex. As stated on the Housing and Urban Development website : “The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases. However, discrimination against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person may be covered by the Fair Housing Act if it is based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes. For example, if a housing provider refuses to rent to an LGBT person because he believes the person acts in a manner that does not conform to his notion of how a person of a particular sex should act, the person may pursue the matter as a violation of the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of sex.” HUD Website. For this reason, landlords should be very cautious about denying housing or otherwise providing unequal treatment towards tenants with varying gender identities.

Sex to Pay Rent

Federal and state law protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex. Offers or propositions to pay rent (or a part of the rent) through sexual favors qualify as a form of sexual discrimination. PTLA.

Enforcement

Tenants may report sexual discrimination 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 authorities. If the issue is LGBT-related, it’s better for tenants to report the problem to the state if they have strong protections for that LGBT issue and to the federal government if they don’t.

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. 1 out of the 16 discrimination complaints from West Virginia were about sexist discriminatory practices. 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 Families, Pregnant Women, and Children in Wisconsin Apartments

It is illegal in Wisconsin (and federally) for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on their having children, being pregnant, or otherwise their familial status. Children must be provided equal access to all facilities and services offered to adults. In addition, tenants are protected from discrimination based on their marital status.

Family Restrictions

Most types of restrictions on families with children violate Wisconsin and federal law. For example, charging tenants with children higher rent or a higher deposit, advertising an apartment as being only for families (or not for families), putting an age limit for children, and placing all families in one part of the building are all illegal. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Rights of Children

Landlords that treat children and adults differently are violating the law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against a tenant’s familial status. Thus, prohibiting children from playing in the laundry room, using the pool, or putting up signs that children can’t skateboard violates the law. Apartment policies must apply equally to adults and children. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Pregnancy

Discriminating against pregnant tenants is illegal. For example, it’s illegal to denying an apartment application because someone is pregnant, charging higher rent or deposits to a pregnant tenant, or deliberately placing a pregnant tenant in a certain part of a building so other tenants aren’t disturbed by the noise of babies. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Marital Status

Wisconsin additionally prohibits discrimination based on one’s marital status. Landlords cannot offer lowered rent to married tenants, only accept married couples, or only accept single tenants. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report discrimination regarding familial status, children, or pregnancy 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. 8 out of the 51 discrimination complaints from Wisconsin were about discrimination against children, familial status, or pregnancy. 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.

Sex, Gender, and LGBT-Based Discrimination in Wisconsin Apartments

Wisconsin law (and federal law) protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. This covers everything from offering lower rent for sexual favors to advertising men or women only apartments. Wisconsin also protects tenants from discrimination for their sexual orientation. The law offers some indirect protections for tenants who were discriminated against for their gender identity.

Sexism

Wisconsin law and federal law protect tenants from discrimination based on their sex (e.g., male, female). This protects tenants from most kinds of sexist acts, including pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sex in the neighborhood, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sex, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sex, denying an apartment or application based on their sex, denying a loan based on their sex, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sex, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their sex, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sex, building a place that is inaccessible, evicting a tenant based on their sex, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sex, and falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s sex. Most commonly, setting different guest policies for women, advertising an apartment for men or women only, and offering a reduction in rent for sexual favors all constitute discrimination based on one’s sex or gender. Typically, apartments with shared common areas (e.g., apartment with roommates or suitemates) are exempt. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Additionally, Wisconsin protects tenants from discrimination based on their marital status. A landlord who only accepts single people violates the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The protections also apply inversely – if a landlord treats married tenants as “less risky” and offers them a lower rent, it constitutes discrimination. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Sexual Orientation

Wisconsin explicitly protects tenants from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. This means that denying housing, charging different rent, or otherwise treating such tenants differently because they are gay or lesbian is illegal under this state’s laws. The full list of prohibited actions include denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sexual orientation, building a place that is inaccessible, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their sexual orientation, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sexual orientation, evicting a tenant based on their sexual orientation, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sexual orientation, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s sexual orientation, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sexual orientation in the neighborhood, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sexual orientation, denying an apartment or application based on their sexual orientation, denying a loan based on their sexual orientation, and refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sexual orientation. Wis. Stat. 106.50 , Wis. Stat. Sec. 106.50 .

Gender Identity

Wisconsin offers no direct protection from discrimination against tenants who identify as a different gender than their biological sex. However, tenants may be able to rely on federal or state protections that prohibit landlords from discriminating against one’s sex. As stated on the Housing and Urban Development website : “The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases. However, discrimination against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person may be covered by the Fair Housing Act if it is based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes. For example, if a housing provider refuses to rent to an LGBT person because he believes the person acts in a manner that does not conform to his notion of how a person of a particular sex should act, the person may pursue the matter as a violation of the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of sex.” HUD Website. For this reason, landlords should be very cautious about denying housing or otherwise providing unequal treatment towards tenants with varying gender identities.

Sex to Pay Rent

Federal and state law protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex. Offers or propositions to pay rent (or a part of the rent) through sexual favors qualify as a form of sexual discrimination. PTLA.

Enforcement

Tenants may report sexual discrimination 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 authorities. If the issue is LGBT-related, it’s better for tenants to report the problem to the state if they have strong protections for that LGBT issue and to the federal government if they don’t.

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. 1 out of the 51 discrimination complaints from Wisconsin were about sexist discriminatory practices. 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 Families, Pregnant Women, and Children in Wyoming Apartments

It is illegal in Wyoming (and federally) for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on their having children, being pregnant, or otherwise their familial status. Children must be provided equal access to all facilities and services offered to adults.

Family Restrictions

Most types of restrictions on families with children violate Wyoming and federal law. For example, charging tenants with children higher rent or a higher deposit, advertising an apartment as being only for families (or not for families), putting an age limit for children, and placing all families in one part of the building are all illegal. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-103 .

Rights of Children

Landlords that treat children and adults differently are violating the law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against a tenant’s familial status. Thus, prohibiting children from playing in the laundry room, using the pool, or putting up signs that children can’t skateboard violates the law. Apartment policies must apply equally to adults and children. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-103 .

Pregnancy

Discriminating against pregnant tenants is illegal. For example, it’s illegal to denying an apartment application because someone is pregnant, charging higher rent or deposits to a pregnant tenant, or deliberately placing a pregnant tenant in a certain part of a building so other tenants aren’t disturbed by the noise of babies. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-103 .

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 familial status, children, or pregnancy 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. 0 out of the 9 discrimination complaints from Wyoming were about discrimination against children, familial status, or pregnancy. 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.

Sex, Gender, and LGBT-Based Discrimination in Wyoming Apartments

Wyoming law (and federal law) protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. This covers everything from offering lower rent for sexual favors to advertising men or women only apartments. Wyoming has no explicit protections for LGBT tenants, but federal and state protections against discriminating by one’s gender offers some indirect protections in certain cases. To be safe, landlords should be careful about treating LGBT tenants differently.

Sexism

Wyoming law and federal law protect tenants from discrimination based on their sex (e.g., male, female). This protects tenants from most kinds of sexist acts, including advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sex, building a place that is inaccessible, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sex in the neighborhood, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sex, denying an apartment or application based on their sex, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their sex, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sex, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sex, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sex, and denying a loan based on their sex. Most commonly, setting different guest policies for women, advertising an apartment for men or women only, and offering a reduction in rent for sexual favors all constitute discrimination based on one’s sex or gender. Typically, apartments with shared common areas (e.g., apartment with roommates or suitemates) are exempt. Wyo. Stat. 40-26-107 , Wyo. Stat. 40-26-144 , Wyo. Stat. Sec. 40-26-103 .

Sexual Orientation

Wyoming does not have a law to specifically protect tenants from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. But tenants may have some protection under laws banning discrimination based on one’s sex. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. Do these protections apply to discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation (since one’s sexual orientation arguably involves one’s sex or gender)? It’s unclear in Wyoming and depends on the circumstance. Other states have ruled in conflicting ways on this issue. A few of the US Circuits have ruled that sexual orientation is covered under the federal or state rule prohibiting gender discrimination (see Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College and more recently, Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community ). Other states have ruled the opposite Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp. . The issue could ultimately be decided either way in Wyoming.

Gender Identity

Wyoming offers no direct protection from discrimination against tenants who identify as a different gender than their biological sex. However, tenants may be able to rely on federal or state protections that prohibit landlords from discriminating against one’s sex. As stated on the Housing and Urban Development website : “The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases. However, discrimination against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person may be covered by the Fair Housing Act if it is based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes. For example, if a housing provider refuses to rent to an LGBT person because he believes the person acts in a manner that does not conform to his notion of how a person of a particular sex should act, the person may pursue the matter as a violation of the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of sex.” HUD Website. For this reason, landlords should be very cautious about denying housing or otherwise providing unequal treatment towards tenants with varying gender identities.

Sex to Pay Rent

Federal and state law protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex. Offers or propositions to pay rent (or a part of the rent) through sexual favors qualify as a form of sexual discrimination. PTLA.

Enforcement

Tenants may report sexual discrimination 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 authorities. If the issue is LGBT-related, it’s better for tenants to report the problem to the state if they have strong protections for that LGBT issue and to the federal government if they don’t.

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. 0 out of the 9 discrimination complaints from Wyoming were about sexist discriminatory practices. 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 Families, Pregnant Women, and Children in Virginia Apartments

It is illegal in Virginia (and federally) for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on their having children, being pregnant, or otherwise their familial status. Children must be provided equal access to all facilities and services offered to adults.

Family Restrictions

Most types of restrictions on families with children violate Virginia and federal law. For example, charging tenants with children higher rent or a higher deposit, advertising an apartment as being only for families (or not for families), putting an age limit for children, and placing all families in one part of the building are all illegal. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Rights of Children

Landlords that treat children and adults differently are violating the law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against a tenant’s familial status. Thus, prohibiting children from playing in the laundry room, using the pool, or putting up signs that children can’t skateboard violates the law. Apartment policies must apply equally to adults and children. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Pregnancy

Discriminating against pregnant tenants is illegal. For example, it’s illegal to denying an apartment application because someone is pregnant, charging higher rent or deposits to a pregnant tenant, or deliberately placing a pregnant tenant in a certain part of a building so other tenants aren’t disturbed by the noise of babies. 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

Tenants may report discrimination regarding familial status, children, or pregnancy 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. 8 out of the 90 discrimination complaints from Virginia were about discrimination against children, familial status, or pregnancy. 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.

Sex, Gender, and LGBT-Based Discrimination in Virginia Apartments

Virginia law (and federal law) protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. This covers everything from offering lower rent for sexual favors to advertising men or women only apartments. Virginia has no explicit protections for LGBT tenants, but federal and state protections against discriminating by one’s gender offers some indirect protections in certain cases. To be safe, landlords should be careful about treating LGBT tenants differently.

Sexism

Virginia law and federal law protect tenants from discrimination based on their sex (e.g., male, female). This protects tenants from most kinds of sexist acts, including interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their sex, discouraging tenants by renting by saying people of a certain sex live in the neighborhood, denying an apartment or application based on their sex, refusing to provide municipal services based on sex, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sex in the neighborhood, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sex, evicting a tenant based on their sex, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sex, building a place that is inaccessible, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sex, denying a loan based on their sex, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sex, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s sex, restrictive covenants based on sex, and refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sex. Most commonly, setting different guest policies for women, advertising an apartment for men or women only, and offering a reduction in rent for sexual favors all constitute discrimination based on one’s sex or gender. Typically, apartments with shared common areas (e.g., apartment with roommates or suitemates) are exempt. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Sexual Orientation

Virginia does not have a law to specifically protect tenants from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. But tenants may have some protection under laws banning discrimination based on one’s sex. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. Do these protections apply to discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation (since one’s sexual orientation arguably involves one’s sex or gender)? It’s unclear in Virginia and depends on the circumstance. Other states have ruled in conflicting ways on this issue. A few of the US Circuits have ruled that sexual orientation is covered under the federal or state rule prohibiting gender discrimination (see Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College and more recently, Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community ). Other states have ruled the opposite Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp. . The issue could ultimately be decided either way in Virginia.

Gender Identity

Virginia offers no direct protection from discrimination against tenants who identify as a different gender than their biological sex. However, tenants may be able to rely on federal or state protections that prohibit landlords from discriminating against one’s sex. As stated on the Housing and Urban Development website : “The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases. However, discrimination against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person may be covered by the Fair Housing Act if it is based on nonconformity with gender stereotypes. For example, if a housing provider refuses to rent to an LGBT person because he believes the person acts in a manner that does not conform to his notion of how a person of a particular sex should act, the person may pursue the matter as a violation of the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of sex.” HUD Website. For this reason, landlords should be very cautious about denying housing or otherwise providing unequal treatment towards tenants with varying gender identities.

Sex to Pay Rent

Federal and state law protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex. Offers or propositions to pay rent (or a part of the rent) through sexual favors qualify as a form of sexual discrimination. PTLA.

Single-Sex Exception for Certain Units

Virginia has an exception to the law against discriminating by sex or gender. Educational institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, religious or correctional institutions can offer single-sex apartment units or homes.Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Enforcement

Tenants may report sexual discrimination 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 authorities. If the issue is LGBT-related, it’s better for tenants to report the problem to the state if they have strong protections for that LGBT issue and to the federal government if they don’t.

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. 6 out of the 90 discrimination complaints from Virginia were about sexist discriminatory practices. 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 Families, Pregnant Women, and Children in Washington Apartments

It is illegal in Washington (and federally) for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on their having children, being pregnant, or otherwise their familial status. Children must be provided equal access to all facilities and services offered to adults. In addition, tenants are protected from discrimination based on their marital status.

Family Restrictions

Most types of restrictions on families with children violate Washington and federal law. For example, charging tenants with children higher rent or a higher deposit, advertising an apartment as being only for families (or not for families), putting an age limit for children, and placing all families in one part of the building are all illegal. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

Rights of Children

Landlords that treat children and adults differently are violating the law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against a tenant’s familial status. Thus, prohibiting children from playing in the laundry room, using the pool, or putting up signs that children can’t skateboard violates the law. Apartment policies must apply equally to adults and children. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

Pregnancy

Discriminating against pregnant tenants is illegal. For example, it’s illegal to denying an apartment application because someone is pregnant, charging higher rent or deposits to a pregnant tenant, or deliberately placing a pregnant tenant in a certain part of a building so other tenants aren’t disturbed by the noise of babies. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

Marital Status

Washington additionally prohibits discrimination based on one’s marital status. Landlords cannot offer lowered rent to married tenants, only accept married couples, or only accept single tenants. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

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 familial status, children, or pregnancy 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. 20 out of the 171 discrimination complaints from Washington were about discrimination against children, familial status, or pregnancy. 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.

Sex, Gender, and LGBT-Based Discrimination in Washington Apartments

Washington law (and federal law) protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex or gender. This covers everything from offering lower rent for sexual favors to advertising men or women only apartments. Washington also has strong protections against LGBT discrimination.

Sexism

Washington law and federal law protect tenants from discrimination based on their sex (e.g., male, female). This protects tenants from most kinds of sexist acts, including charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sex, restrictive covenants based on sex, denying a loan based on their sex, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their sex, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s sex, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sex, asking about a tenant’s sex, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sex, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sex, retaliating (e.g., raising the rent, evicting, cutting off services, or harassing a tenant) against a tenant for reporting a problem, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sex in the neighborhood, denying an apartment or application based on their sex, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sex, evicting a tenant based on their sex, and building a place that is inaccessible. Most commonly, setting different guest policies for women, advertising an apartment for men or women only, and offering a reduction in rent for sexual favors all constitute discrimination based on one’s sex or gender. Typically, apartments with shared common areas (e.g., apartment with roommates or suitemates) are exempt. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

Additionally, Washington protects tenants from discrimination based on their marital status. A landlord who only accepts single people violates the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The protections also apply inversely – if a landlord treats married tenants as “less risky” and offers them a lower rent, it constitutes discrimination. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

Sexual Orientation

Washington explicitly protects tenants from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. This means that denying housing, charging different rent, or otherwise treating such tenants differently because they are gay or lesbian is illegal under this state’s laws. The full list of prohibited actions include refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their sexual orientation, asking about a tenant’s sexual orientation, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s sexual orientation, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain sexual orientation in the neighborhood, restrictive covenants based on sexual orientation, evicting a tenant based on their sexual orientation, denying a loan based on their sexual orientation, building a place that is inaccessible, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their sexual orientation, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on sexual orientation, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their sexual orientation, retaliating (e.g., raising the rent, evicting, cutting off services, or harassing a tenant) against a tenant for reporting a problem, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s sexual orientation, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their sexual orientation, and denying an apartment or application based on their sexual orientation. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 .

Gender Identity

Washington explicitly protects tenants from discrimination based on their gender identity. Thus, if a tenant is transitioning or identifies as a different gender than thier biological sex, a landlord cannot treat them differently for those reasons. Specifically, discrimination includes charging different rent or offering different amenities based on gender identity, interfering with a tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property based on their gender identity, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their gender identity, asking about a tenant’s gender identity, evicting a tenant based on their gender identity, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their gender identity, restrictive covenants based on gender identity, retaliating (e.g., raising the rent, evicting, cutting off services, or harassing a tenant) against a tenant for reporting a problem, denying an apartment or application based on their gender identity, pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain gender identity in the neighborhood, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s gender identity, advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their gender identity, denying a loan based on their gender identity, building a place that is inaccessible, and falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s gender identity. Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.210 , Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.222 , Wash. Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.222 See here for more information about transgender protection .

Sex to Pay Rent

Federal and state law protects tenants from discrimination based on their sex. Offers or propositions to pay rent (or a part of the rent) through sexual favors qualify as a form of sexual discrimination. PTLA.

Enforcement

Tenants may report sexual discrimination 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 authorities. If the issue is LGBT-related, it’s better for tenants to report the problem to the state if they have strong protections for that LGBT issue and to the federal government if they don’t.

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. 12 out of the 171 discrimination complaints from Washington were about sexist discriminatory practices. 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.

Discrimination of Families, Pregnant Women, and Children in West Virginia Apartments

It is illegal in West Virginia (and federally) for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on their having children, being pregnant, or otherwise their familial status. Children must be provided equal access to all facilities and services offered to adults.

Family Restrictions

Most types of restrictions on families with children violate West Virginia and federal law. For example, charging tenants with children higher rent or a higher deposit, advertising an apartment as being only for families (or not for families), putting an age limit for children, and placing all families in one part of the building are all illegal. W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

Rights of Children

Landlords that treat children and adults differently are violating the law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against a tenant’s familial status. Thus, prohibiting children from playing in the laundry room, using the pool, or putting up signs that children can’t skateboard violates the law. Apartment policies must apply equally to adults and children. W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

Pregnancy

Discriminating against pregnant tenants is illegal. For example, it’s illegal to denying an apartment application because someone is pregnant, charging higher rent or deposits to a pregnant tenant, or deliberately placing a pregnant tenant in a certain part of a building so other tenants aren’t disturbed by the noise of babies. W. Va. Code Sec. 5-11 .

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 familial status, children, or pregnancy 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. 0 out of the 16 discrimination complaints from West Virginia were about discrimination against children, familial status, or pregnancy. 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.