WFJ Presents: Renters’ Fair Housing Rights in Minnesota

When renting an apartment, home, townhome,  duplex, or other type of rental property in Minnesota,  there are many different concerns that may arise during the process. However, fear of discrimination should not be one of them.

The Federal Fair Housing Act and the Minnesota Humans Rights Act prohibit housing discrimination based on:

– Race
– Color
– Religion
– Sex
– Disability
– Familial Status
– National Origin
– Creed
– Sexual or Affectional Orientation
– Marital Status
– Receipt of Public Assistance

A violation of the Fair Housing Act occurs if the previously mentioned characteristics are taken into consideration and lead to: the refusal to rent housing; make housing unavailable; deny certain property; set different terms or conditions; provide different housing services or facilities; or the denial of access to a membership in a facility or service. Additionally, if you have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, the landlord may not refuse reasonable modifications to your dwelling. Modifications are allowed if it is necessary for the disabled person and is done at that person’s own expense.

There are some situations in which the landlord may be exempt from violations. Examples of these exemptions are: a non-profit organization that rents rooms in a residence home, with respect to sex; resident owner of a rental unit in the accommodation to another person with respect to sex, marital status, public assistance, sexual orientation, or disability; resident owner of a rental unit in a dwelling with no more than two units, with respect to sexual orientation; resident owner occupied building containing four or fewer dwelling units or housing for elderly persons, with respect to familial status; and local, state, or federal restrictions regarding the maximum number of people allowed to occupy a dwelling shall not be disregarded in favor of familial status discrimination.

If you believe you have been a victim of a violation of the Fair Housing rights, contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by phone or letter of complaint. If you decide to write a letter of complaint make sure to include the following: your name and address, the name and address of the person against whom you are filing the complaint, the address of the rental property, the date the violation occurred, and a description of what happened. A complaint should be filed as soon as possible, however, you are allowed up to one year after the violation to file a complaint.

Attorney Samantha A. Hargrave and Attorney Lauren T. Skildum