Mississippi protects tenants from discriminatory practices by their landlord based on their religion. Tenants also have similar protections under federal law.
Discrimination covers quite a bit more than just landlords who refuse to rent to certain religions. Discrimination includes:
- charging different rent or offering different amenities based on religion
- denying a loan based on their religion
- refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant’s religion
- denying an apartment or application based on their religion
- advertising an apartment that’s for or not for a person based on their religion
- falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant’s religion
Some religions are related to a tenant’s race or nationality, such as Judaism and Hinduism. 1987 Supreme Court case , Recent lower-level case . Both race and nationality are also protected from discrimination under Mississippi and federal laws offering additional protection to landlords who discriminate against such tenants. Miss. Code Ann. § 43-33-723 .
Tenants may report discrimination regarding their religion to the federal government directly. They also have the option in Mississippi 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% (47.6% from Mississippi) of discrimination cases were resolved in the year they were filed. 0 out of the 21 discrimination complaints from Mississippi were about discriminatory acts based on the tenant’s religion. 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 Mississippi 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. Mississippi law does not describe the penalties for violations of the fair housing rules. This means a judge decides consequences on a case-by-case basis. .
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 Mississippi” 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.