The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced yesterday that it will enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
HUD’s move, based on the Supreme Court’s reasoning from last June’s Bostock v Clayton County decision, effectively expands civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans seeking housing and housing-related services. The decision follows an executive order from the Biden administration directing federal agencies to implement the Supreme Court’s interpretation in all federal civil rights activities.
“NAR has long championed LGBTQ rights in the housing market, first calling for expanded protections in 2011,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler. “There are few greater human needs than housing, and to exclude LGBTQ individuals from the protections afforded to other Americans is cruel. This is a just and historic decision by HUD.”
“Realtors® have a duty and obligation to provide equal service to everyone searching for housing,” said PAR President Christopher Raad. “Our Code of Ethics addresses how we treat all of our clients and I believe our organization is stronger when we encourage a culture where diversity and inclusion are part of our association’s values.”
The significance of this action is underscored by several housing discrimination studies which indicate that same-sex couples and transgender persons in communities across the country experience demonstrably less favorable treatment than their straight and cisgender counterparts when seeking rental housing. Despite this reality, the department has been constrained in its efforts to address housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by legal uncertainty about whether most such discrimination was within HUD’s reach.
State and local jurisdictions funded by HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program that enforce the Fair Housing Act through their HUD-certified substantially equivalent laws will be required to administer those laws to prohibit discrimination because of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Guidance clarifying how housing providers can comply with the Fair Housing Act when assessing a person’s request to have an assistance animal because of a disability was issued this week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It’s not preachy to tell your client that discrimination in housing is unlawful and subjects them to substantial adverse consequences. Remind him that your own participation in such a practice is unlawful and therefore you will not promote that practice.
The percentage of lesbian, gay or bisexual buyers and sellers has remained at around 4% since 2015, when NAR began conducting research. The median age of lesbian and gay buyers and sellers is 45, comparable to heterosexuals’ median age of 44, but above bisexuals’ median ate of 36.