8 Steps for Filing a Fair Housing Act Claim

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8 Steps for Filing a Fair Housing Act Claim

Staff Writer · May 3, 2010

The Fair Housing Act allows you to file a complaint when your housing rights have been violated. By following the steps below, you can increase the odds of obtaining justice.

Step 1. Do You Have a Claim?

Determine whether you have a claim by establishing that what happened was based on your status as a member of a protected class. Protected classes include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and family status (whether you’re pregnant or have children under the age of 18).

Step 2. Selecting a Complaint Method

Choose a method for filing your complaint. You can contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by telephone (1-800-669-9777), mail, or by using the complaint form on HUD’s website (at hud.gov).

Step 3. Collecting Information for Your Complaint

You will need contact information for yourself and for someone else that HUD can speak to if you’re not available. Write down the details of the incident including why you believe that you were discriminated against, where and when the incident happened, and the name and address of the person or company who discriminated against you.

Step 4. Providing the Initial Information

Fill out the complaint form to the best of your ability. A HUD intake specialist will call you on the telephone to gather more detailed information about the incident. The specialist will then determine whether you have a valid housing complaint within their jurisdiction. If your complaint is not valid, or it doesn’t fall within HUD’s jurisdiction, they will close the case. Otherwise, they will file a formal complaint, which you must sign.

Step 5. The Formal Complaint

Within 10 days of receiving your signed complaint, HUD will send a letter and a copy of your complaint to the party who discriminated against you (e.g. the landlord or real estate agent). At the same time, you’ll receive an acknowledgment letter and copy of the complaint that HUD sent to the other party.

Step 6. The Investigation

HUD will interview you, the person who you’re complaining about, and any witnesses, to figure out what happened. They may ask you to provide documents related to your complaint. And, they may decide to visit the site where the incident occurred, to complete their investigation.

Step 7. Reconciliation Process

The Fair Housing Act requires HUD to try to get you and the person who discriminated against you together, to work things out. Participation in this mediation process is voluntary. If the two of you can come to an agreement, HUD will have you sign a conciliation agreement (a settlement) and will close the case. However, if either of you breaks this agreement, HUD may have the U.S. Department of Justice file suit to enforce it.

Step 8. When You Disagree with HUD’s Decision

When HUD’s investigation finds no discrimination, they will issue a “no reasonable cause” determination and close your case. You have the right to file for reconsideration, at which point, you can submit additional evidence for review. HUD will then make a final determination on your case, and take appropriate action to enforce the law.

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