What is Fair Housing?
Fair Housing is the right of individuals to obtain the housing of their choice, free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability,1 familial status,2 or national origin. This right is assured by the Federal Fair Housing Act, as amended, and other legislation which makes it unlawful to discriminate in the sale, rental, financing, and insuring of housing.
Under the Fair Housing Act an aggrieved person may, not later than one year after an alleged discriminatory housing practice has occurred, file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), or a State or local agency enforcing laws that are “substantially equivalent” to the Fair Housing Act. Upon the filing of such a complaint, HUD has the responsibility to serve notice of the complaint and conduct an investigation into the alleged discriminatory housing practice. The Fair Housing Act also enables aggrieved parties to pursue redress through the courts, without limit on the recovery of damages and attorney’s fees.
If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your rights have been violated, there are several ways to file a complaint:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Kansas City Regional Office of FHEO
Gateway Tower II 400 State Avenue, Room 200
Kansas City, Kansas 66101-2406
Missouri Commission on Human Rights
PO Box 1129
Jefferson City, MO 65102-1129
Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Opportunity Council
1027 South Vandeventer Avenue, 6th Floor
St. Louis, MO 63110
Phone: 314.534.5800 or TOLL FREE 800.555.3951
TDD (Missouri Relay) 800.735.2966
TDD (Illinois Relay) 800.526.0844
St. Charles County Missouri
Director of the Department of Community Development
201 N. Second Street – Suite 420
St. Charles, MO 63301
1 Under the Fair Housing Act, a person with a disability has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. This does not include current, illegal use of, or addiction to, a controlled substance.
2 The protected class of “familial status” protects households with children under age 18. These protections also apply to any person who is or plans to become pregnant. Note, familial status is defined in terms of the presence or expected presence of children and does not include marital status or sexual orientation.