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Palm Beach County Fair Housing Laws

The Fair Housing Laws

Under Palm Beach County's Fair Housing Ordinance (Ordinance No. 90-1, as amended by Ordinance 95-42) and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, (the Federal Fair Housing Act), discrimination is prohibited in housing because of : race or color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap, or familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18). Palm Beach County's Fair Housing Ordinance also prohibits discrimination in housing because of marital status, age or sexual orientation.

What Housing is Covered?

The Fair Housing Laws covers most housing, including any real property, mobile home or trailer, or any portions thereof which is used or occupied as, or designed to be used as a home, residence or sleeping place for one or more families. Also covered is vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon, of buildings, residences, or mobile home. In some circumstances, the laws exempt owner occupied buildings with four units or less, single family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker or advertising, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What is Prohibited?

In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (or marital status or sexual orientation, under Palm Beach County's Ordinances):

Refuse to rent or sell housing

Refuse to negotiate for housing

Make housing unavailable

Deny a dwelling

Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling

Provide different housing services or facilities

Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental

For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or

Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

In Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (or marital status or sexual orientation, under Palm Beach County's Ordinances):

Refuse to make a mortgage loan

Refuse to provide information regarding loans

Impose different terms or conditions on a loan

Discriminate in appraising property

Refuse to purchase a loan or

Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.

In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:

Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right

or assisting others who exercise that right

Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on

race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap, marital status or sexual orientation. NOTE: This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies

to single family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the provisions of the Fair Housing Laws.

Protections for Persons with Disabilities

If you, or someone associated with you:

Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex or mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities

Have a record of such disability, or

Are regarded as having such a disability

The prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of handicap, or disability, include handicaps of either the buyer or renter, or of a person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is sold, rented, or made available, or of any person associated with the buyer or renter.

Your landlord may not:

Refuse to let you make reasonable accommodations to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the handicapped person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)

Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the handicapped person to use the housing.

Example:A building with a "no pets" policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.

Example:An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.

However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.

Protection for Families with Children

Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:

A parent

A person who has legal custody of a child or children, or

The designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian's written permission.

Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone who has, or obtains, custody of a child under age 18.

Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:

It is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program, or

It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 years of age or older, or

It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units and adheres to a policy statement that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against under Palm Beach County's Fair Housing Ordinance or Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended (the Federal Fair Housing Act), call, write, or visit the Office of Equal Opportunity at the address shown on this brochure.

Under Palm Beach County's Fair Housing Ordinance, complaints must be sworn, in writing, and received by the Office of Equal Opportunity within one year after the date of the alleged discriminatory practice.

[Note: Complaints may be filed with either the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Florida Commission on Human Relations with one year after an alleged violation. You may contact the nearest HUD regional office at: , or the Florida Commission on Human Relations, at 325 John Knox Road, Building F, Suite 240, Tallahassee, FL 32303, Phone: (850) 488-7082.

For information, assistance, or to file a complaint, contact:

Palm Beach County

Office of Equal Opportunity

Suite 130

215 North Olive Avenue

West Palm Beach, Florida 33401

Phone: (561) 355-4883

Fax: (561) 355-4932

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