Fair Housing Information For Consumers
The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968, created protected classes to ensure that all people have equal access to housing. These protected classes cannot be discriminated against when being considered for rentals, homes, and loans. There are federal protected classes and state-specific protected classes.
Nationwide, you cannot be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. Rhode Island law added more classes to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, marital status, military status, sexual orientation, or if a person has been a victim of domestic abuse.
What Can You Do If You Feel Your Fair Housing Rights Have Been Violated?
- File a complaint with The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – The Fair Housing Act is administered by HUD. Complaints can be filed with the Department through the HUD website at hud.gov/fairhousing. An employee will follow up on the complaint with you, the agent, their broker, and anyone else associated with the violation.
- Contact the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights – Though you have up to one year from the date of the incident, you are encouraged to contact the Commission as soon as possible via telephone, letters, in-person, etc.) The commission will investigate the charge and if evidence of discrimination is found, the case can go as far as Superior Court if necessary. Consumers can find information on the process on rich.ri.gov.
- Contact the agent’s broker – We hope this never happens, but if you have a complaint about a REALTOR®, contact the agent’s broker. The broker can either help you with the problem or give you the contact information of the local board of REALTORS® that the agent in question belongs to.
- File a formal grievance with the local board of REALTORS® that the agent belongs to. In addition to the agent’s broker, the Rhode Island Association of REALTORS® can inform you of the agent’s local board affiliation. Contact information for the local associations of REALTORS® can be found here: https://www.rirealtors.org/local-boards. If you would like to contact the Rhode Island Association of REALTORS to determine an agent’s local board, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.