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Nancy Starczyk: Housing fines set to increase

Posted: April 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.

 

When it comes to buying or renting a home, bias too often still appears in all shapes and sizes - because of religion, age, race, sexual orientation, a handicap, a partner from a different race, a different nationality, or simply the presence of kids.

Housing discrimination is not permitted by federal law and as of April 28 the penalty for violators will rise dramatically.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice recently published a final rule that raises the maximum civil penalties under the Federal Housing Administration, the Service Members Civil Relief Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For the FHA the maximum civil penalty for a first violation has increased from $55,000 to $75,000; for a subsequent violation the new maximum is $150,000.

The ADA increases are the same as the FHA.

For the SCRA the new maximum civil penalty is $60,000 for a first violation and $120,000 for a second violation.

The new maximums apply only to violations occurring on or after April 28.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development each April uses Fair Housing Month to mark the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the landmark law passed shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which prohibits housing discrimination. Despite progress, individuals and families nationwide continue to face both blatant and subtle forms of discrimination. Take this moment to recommit to the idea of ensuring people the opportunity to pursue their dreams. It’s the fair and right thing to do.

Tips for Victims of Suspected Housing Discrimination

People who believe they have been the victim of housing discrimination need to collect specific information if they intend to file a complaint. A Housing Discrimination Complaint Form is available for download at www.HUD.gov.

Complete and return it on-line or submit it to the closest HUD office.

Email the completed form to CA_Webmanager@hud.gov or mail it to: L.A. Field Office, 611 West Sixth St., Suite 801, Los Angeles, CA 90017.

Nancy Starczyk is President of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors.

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