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Fair Housing

Equal access to rental housing and homeownership opportunities is the cornerstone of this nation's federal housing policy. The Fair Housing laws cover virtually all housing in the United States.

The Bloomington City Council has adopted a Fair Housing Policy at their August 6, 2018 meeting. Below is a video summary of the policy.

City of Bloomington Fair Housing Policy

For more information on Bloomington's efforts for the preservation and creation of affordable housing please click here: Affordable housing: Preservation and creation

The Federal Fair Housing Act and The Minnesota Human Rights Act

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race or color.
  • National origin.
  • Religion.
  • Sex.
  • Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18).
  • Handicap (disability).

See http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FHLaws/index.cfm or for more information on Federal Fair Housing Laws, as well as housing discrimination information from LawHelpMN.org.

The Minnesota Human Rights Act (Statute 363A) mirrors the federal legislation, prohibiting discrimination based on:

  • Race or color.
  • National origin.
  • Religion.
  • Sex.
  • Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18).
  • Handicap (disability).

Additionally, it prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Sexual or affectional orientation.
  • Marital status.
  • Creed.
  • Status with regard to receipt of public assistance.

See https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=363A  for more information on Minnesota's State Statutes on Human Rights.

Fair Housing Videos

The Housinglink has created Fair Housing videos addressing discrimination. Videos are available in the following languages: English, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish.

What housing is covered?

Fair housing covers most housing. In some circumstances, fair housing laws exempt owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What actions are prohibited?

In the sale and rental of housing: No one may take any of the following actions:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing,
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing,
  • Make housing unavailable,
  • Deny a dwelling,
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling,
  • Provide different housing services or facilities,
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental,
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting), or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

In mortgage lending: No one may take any of the following actions:

  • Refuse to make a mortgage loan,
  • Refuse to provide information regarding loans,
  • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees,
  • Discriminate in appraising property,
  • Refuse to purchase a loan, or
  • Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.

In addition: It is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right.
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability). This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Additional protections if you have a disability

If you or someone associated with you:

  • Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, cancer, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • Have a record of such a disability or
  • Are regarded as having such a disability,

your landlord may not:

  • Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing

Example: A building with a "no pets" policy must allow service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, such as a person with visual impairments to keep a guide dog. 

Example: An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.

However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.

Also see Fair Housing for Seniors with Disabilities,  a PDF provided by LawHelpMN.org.

Or see HUD-Disability Rights in Housing.

Requirements for New Buildings

In buildings that are ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator or four or more units:

  • Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
  • All units must have:
    • An accessible route into and through the unit,
    • Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls,
    • Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars, and
    • Kitchen and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.

If a building with four or more units has no elevator and will be ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units.

These requirements for new buildings do not replace any more stringent standards in State or local law.

For more examples and information on this topic, see Reasonable Accommodations in Housing provided by LawHelpMN.org.

Housing opportunities for families

Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:

  • A parent,
  • A person who has legal custody of the child or children, or
  • The designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian's written permission.

Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.

Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:

  • The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program or
  • It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or
  • It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.

A transition period permits residents on or before September 13, 1988 to continue living in the housing, regardless of their age, without interfering with the exemption.

Where can I file a fair housing complaint?
Where can I find out more about fair housing and tenants' rights?

These agencies may be able to provide you with important information or help you file a housing complaint:

Before you contact any of the above organizations to file a discrimination complaint, it would be beneficial to have the following information available:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the person your complaint is against
  • The address of the housing involved
  • A short description of the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated
  • The date(s) of the alleged violation

Where can I get legal advice?

Hennepin County Courts offers free legal advice through their "Legal Access Point Clinics." For clinic hours, visit mncourts.gov/Help-Topics/Self-Help-Centers.aspx. Don't forget to check out their Self-Help Center while you are there.

Community Action Partnership, in collaboration with Volunteer Lawyers Network, has begun offering legal services clinics in suburban Hennepin County. For dates and times, visit the Volunteer Lawyers Network website