If you are a renter, then you need to know that you have certain rights that are protected by the government’s Fair Housing Act of 1968. If your landlord does not uphold these rights, or violates them in any way, you have the right to legal recourse in the form of a fair housing complaint. Follow these steps for how to file a fair housing claim:
Initiating your claim. You must file your claim with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). You may do this either online, via the HUD website: www.hud.gov, or via telephone: 1-800-669-9777. Once you file your complaint, a HUD representative will contact you to conduct an intake interview and collect any evidence you might have to support your case. If HUD finds that you have a legitimate case, it will begin an investigation.
Filing the complaint. If HUD decides to investigate your claim, the agency will create an official claim on the appropriate HUD forms and submit them to you to be signed. The signed claim will then be delivered to the respondent (landlord or apartment manager) as notice that a claim has been filed. The respondent then has ten days to respond to the complaint.
The investigation. As part of the investigation process, HUD will interview you, the respondent, and any applicable witnesses. HUD may even take depositions and subpoena people in attempts to get the most complete and accurate depiction of your claim. Your case will be filled out according to what HUD finds during the investigation.
Conciliation or no cause. If HUD finds that the landlord is at fault, then the agency will bring together both parties in attempts to mediate a conciliation agreement. Once an agreement is reached, your case will be closed. If, however, HUD finds that your claim is unsubstantiated, it will enter a no cause determination and close your case.
In case of default. If you and your landlord enter into a conciliation agreement, then you are both bound by its terms. If either of you fail to meet those terms, then your case may be reopened and further action may be taken.
As you can see, filing a fair housing claim is not a complicated endeavor. However, it is a process that must be followed every step along the way if you want to achieve the best results possible. Follow these guidelines to file a fair housing claim, and don’t forget that you are responsible for proving your case and providing HUD with reasonable backup.
About the Author: Loralee Lawin is a housing specialist who recommends everyone know their rights as a renter before signing a lease. She enjoys helping corporate employees find short term housing and recommends furnishedapartments.org to anyone who needs to move frequently.