Fair Housing Act Ensures A Roof Above Every Head


In all of the cases of civil rights denial, there have been multiple instances of victim being denied housing just because he is from a particular community, or a particular race, religion or a particular sexual orientation (not as the primary ground) or has some kind of disability. It must be understood that such actions qualify as discrimination under the constitution of United States and to address such issues, the Congress has enacted the Fair Housing Act. The Act is applicable on home owners, real estate companies, construction houses and companies providing home insurance to the common public.

Enforcement
The Fair Housing Act has made a provision that if the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) is of the opinion that a particular person or entity is involved in what may be termed as a discriminatory practice, the DoJ shall have the authority to investigate and start appropriate legal proceedings. It must be understood that there should be a matter of public concern, before the Department of Justice comes into action. The DoJ can have the person tried in a court of law and can exact monetary damages which may be actual damages, punitive damages or both.

In case there is breach of rights of an individual, it shall be the responsibility of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate the action. In case the investigation conducted by the Department finds that a case of discrimination has indeed taken place, it would be open for either the complainant or the respondent to take the matter in a federal court. If the complainant takes the matter to the court of law, it shall be the responsibility of the Department of Justice to take over the matters. In case threat or actual violence has been involved, the Department of Justice is allowed to initiate criminal proceedings as well.

Procedure
People who consider that they are victims of discrimination against the provisions of Fair Housing Act because of their being physically challenged or because of any other ground have to approach the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They may directly sue the perpetrator in a federal court or a state court as well. It is necessary provision of the Fair Housing Act that the process be put in motion not more than 1 year after the alleged incident of discrimination. In case the lawsuit is being filed directly to a state court or a federal court, such period is extended for 2 years.

People who are handicapped tend to face a lot of problems when they apply for housing. For whatever reason they may be denied housing, the United States government has made provision, that if such act is discriminatory, it will be appropriately addressed.