Housing discrimination can happen in the processes of:
- Getting a loan
Commercial property discrimination can happen in the process of:
Discrimination can also include:
- Denying someone use or enjoyment of their home
- Denying someone access to a commercial property on a discriminatory basis
Actual damages, including those caused by humiliation and embarrassment, may be awarded in housing and commercial property cases. Civil penalties may also be assessed, depending on the respondent's record of discrimination. This varies from employment discrimination, in which damages include only direct monetary damages, such as lost wages.
Illegal housing and commercial property discrimination must be based on race, color, sex, age (40 and over), religious creed, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy, familial status (families with children under age 18), handicap or disability, or the use, handling, or training of a guide or support animal for disability.
- Examples of illegal discrimination in housing and commercial property include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Refusing to rent to a family with children under 18
- Refusing to rent or sell a home to someone of a particular race, religion, sex, etc.
- Targeting a particular group for unfavorable loan terms or deceptive lending practices (i.e., predatory lending)
- A landlord or municipality refusing accessible parking or otherwise denying access to the housing accommodation of a person with a disability
- Housing advertisements that express a preference for people of a certain race, religion, sex, etc.
- Making references to the composition of the neighborhood in which a property is listed to discourage a home purchase
- Treating one tenant less favorably than others in the terms of their rental or in repairing or maintaining property
- Harassment by a landlord based on race, religion, sex, etc.
- Saying a home is rented when it is still available because the owner does not want to rent to someone of the applicant’s race.
- Setting different terms and conditions for sale or rental of a property due to a person having a disability.
- Charging a fee for a support animal(s)
- Refusing a request from a tenant with a disability for closer parking
- Denying maintenance requests because of age
- Not providing the same services to an individual who filed a discrimination complaint in retaliation for filing the complaint
- Denying a loan request based on race, religion, sex, etc.
Housing and commercial property discrimination based on other factors may be unfair or unethical but not specifically prohibited by law. If it isn’t clear whether your situation is illegal discrimination, an investigation will determine the facts as the law applies.
Housing for older persons can be provided under specific federal or state programs and must meet the following criteria:
- Intended for and solely occupied by persons 62 years of age or older, or
- Intended and operated for occupancy by at least one person 55 years of age or older per unit.
The requirements used in determining whether housing qualifies as housing for older persons include, but are not limited to, the following:
- At least 80 percent of the units are occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older.
- Publication of and adherence to policies and procedures that demonstrate an intent by the owner or manager to provide housing for persons 55 years of age or older.
- Housing complies with regulations declared by the PHRC for verification of occupancy.
Under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), neither you nor your designee may do the following:
- Steer or otherwise direct a property seeker's attention to a particular neighborhood based on the race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age, familial status, or use of a guide or support animal because of the blindness, deafness, or physical disability of the user, or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals, of either the property seekers or persons already residing in that neighborhood.
- Volunteer information to or invite questions from property seekers concerning the race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age, familial status, or use of a guide or support animal because of the blindness, deafness, or physical disability of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals of persons already residing in a neighborhood.
- Answer questions from or initiate a discussion with persons who are selling, renting, or otherwise making housing or commercial property available concerning the race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age, familial status, or use of a guide or support animal because of the blindness, deafness, or physical disability of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals of prospective buyers, applicants, or others seeking housing.
- Engage in certain practices which attempt to induce the sale, or discourage the purchase or lease of housing accommodations or commercial property by making direct or indirect reference to the present or future composition of the neighborhood in which the facility is located with respect to race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, disability, age, familial status, or guide or support animal dependency.
- Engage in any course of action which could be construed as reluctant or delayed service having the effect of withholding or making unavailable housing accommodations or commercial property to persons because of their race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age, familial status, or use of a guide or support animal.
The PHRC will file your housing discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) if your allegations are covered under federal laws enforced by HUD. This process is called “dual filing.”
- Only one agency (PHRC or HUD) will conduct the investigation.
- Federal law may afford you additional rights and remedies, which this dual-filing process protects
You may bring action in the Court of Common Pleas if, within one year after filing:
- Your discrimination complaint has not been resolved, or
- The PHRC dismisses your complaint.
If you feel you have been the victim of illegal housing and commercial property discrimination, file a complaint or report a bias incident by:
The following forms may also be used to file a housing and commercial property discrimination complaint:
If your complaint is disability-related, complete and submit the following form to authorize the release of information related to your disability to PHRC investigators:
Through a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD), the PHRC has provided book readings of the “The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House” to almost 1,000 children in Pennsylvania. Launched in 2016, these readings take place at libraries, elementary schools, daycare programs, and other community organizations to help promote a better understanding of housing discrimination. The readings include discussions about housing discrimination and encouragement to talk about the issue at home.
The story is about a girl named Samaria and her mother who are in search of a new place to live. During their search, they experience housing discrimination. Samaria and her school friends work together to provide the local fair housing center with incidents of housing discrimination.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a reading session for your organization or school.