Fair Housing: Discrimination

State and Federal Fair Housing Laws protect you against unlawful discrimination in the buying, selling, and renting of housing on the basis of:

  • Race or Ethnicity
  • National Origin
  • Disability
  • Sex/Gender
  • Family Status

What that means is that a landlord cannot treat you differently based on any of the above conditions. Ways that a landlord could unlawfully treat you differently may include things like:

  • Refusing to show you a property or rent to you
  • Charging higher rates or requiring a larger security deposit
  • Steering you towards certain neighborhoods or parts of town
  • Offering you different terms, such as length of lease or renewal terms
  • Restricting your access to common areas, like the pool or gym.

These laws apply to any apartment complex or management company with four or more units, but some of these laws do not apply to landlords who only own one property, or to landlords who share common space with the tenant, such as a roommate situation. Certain other discriminatory acts are allowed, or are allowed in certain circumstances, for example:

  • A landlord can charge a person a larger than usual security deposit if it is based on a person’s rental history, credit report, or financial circumstances.
  • A landlord can cap the total number of people who live in an apartment or home regardless of relationship, usually at two people per bedroom. 
  • A landlord can only rent to people of certain sex if they are sharing common spaces, such as in a roommate situation. 
  • Age discrimination is allowed in certain communities that are designated as only being for seniors, usually aged 55 or older.

What about disability accommodations and discrimination? 

In addition to banning discrimination on the basis of disability, the law in Georgia also requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for disabled tenants. What is a reasonable accommodation is a complex topic that we won’t be able to cover but some examples of reasonable accommodations are:

  • Assigning a disabled tenant a parking space close to their unit, or on the ground floor of a parking deck.
  • Assigning a disabled tenant a ground floor unit.
  • Allowing the tenant to make minor modifications, like installing grab bars in the bathroom, replace doorknobs with door handles, or lower a peephole in a door.

But some accommodations are not reasonable and a landlord is not required to allow the tenant to make them, though the tenant can always ask. Examples of unreasonable accommodations include things like removing walls, replacing stairs with ramps or elevators, or adding new doors.

Housing discrimination laws are complicated and involve Federal, State, and Local laws and ordinances that overlap. If you are looking for your local housing discrimination ordinance start by looking up your county and city code at this website. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs also has a Fair Housing website that has information about Fair Housing in Georgia and information about how to report housing discrimination.  

If you think you have been the victim of housing discrimination you should file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at their website. Make sure you file your complaint within one year of the act of discrimination. 

Fair Housing is the law in Georgia. Landlords cannot discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, family status, or disability. If you think you have been discriminated against you should file a complaint with HUD or your local housing authority.

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