Office of Human Relations
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as Amended (Title VIII), also referred to as The Fair Housing Act, and Chapter 57 of the Code of the City (Chapter 57) make it illegal to discriminate in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (includes children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and disability (mental or physical). Additionally, Chapter 57 provides further protection because of marital status and sexual orientation. It is also illegal to threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising their fair housing rights or who may be assisting others in exercising their rights.
Most residential dwellings and a broad range of housing related transactions are covered by housing discrimination laws.
A residential dwelling means any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as, designed as, or is intended for occupancy as a residence by one or more families, and, any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure, or portion thereof.
A financial institution is any person, bank, trust company, private banker, savings bank, industrial bank, savings and loan association, credit union, investment company, mortgage company, insurance company and others, to whom application is made for the purchase, acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, repair or maintenance of housing accommodations.
Further, in general terms, it is unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes engaging in residential real estate-related transactions, including brokerage services, mortgage lending and insurance, to make unavailable these transactions and services to protected classes.
Generally, there are some exemptions to housing discrimination laws. These exemptions are based on carefully constructed, federal and local law guidelines. The OHR staff is available to assist with determining exemptions.
In broad terms, the following is a list of some exemptions.
It can be complicated to figure out if a person has standing to file a complaint and/or if a housing provider is covered by federal, state and/or local discrimination laws. It takes coordination of jurisdictional rules and regulations to determine if a complaint will be processed, i.e., conciliated or investigated, by OHR or HUD. Generally, complaints filed with the OHR within 365 calendar days from the date of the alleged discriminatory incident will remain with OHR for processing. Additionally, complaints filed with HUD that meet OHRís jurisdictional requirements are forwarded to OHR for processing. Contact the OHR to assist with sorting through the rules and regulations and assisting with the filing process.
Preventing illegal discrimination from occurring is preferable to trying to deal with the consequences after the fact. The OHR is committed to providing training and technical assistance, outreach and educational programs to assist housing providers (those persons or entities involved in the sale, rental or financing of a residential dwelling, and, other housing related transactions) in understanding and preventing discrimination. It can be averted if housing providers and their employees know their responsibilities as well as their legal rights.
The OHR can and will help you with your training needs, at no-cost. Our staff is available to make presentations and participate in meetings/workshops with your company (includes management and staff). In rental situations, we will also provide informational meetings and workshops for tenants. Our training is extensive, and can be general and basic or custom designed to meet your companyís specific needs. The training venue may be on-site at your workplace or other place of your choosing, or, a place of our choosing, e.g., Orlando City Hall, an Orlando Community Center, etc.
A generalized presentation of housing discrimination may include:
∑ an overview of the laws enforced by OHR, HUD, State of FL, and other federal agencies;
∑ recent fair housing cases and other important updates;
∑ a description of each protected class; and
∑ how to recognize potentially discriminatory situations.
A customized presentation of housing discrimination will be per the request of the housing provider, and could include:
∑ training for the companyís internal investigators and employees specializing in fair housing issues;
∑ explanation of all protected classes;
∑ accessibility issues;
∑ sexual harassment issues;
∑ familial status issues;
∑ stereotyping and how it affects fair housing; and,
∑ other issues as may be requested.
For all of your housing discrimination training and outreach needs contact:
Patricia Newton, Asst. to Director & Human Relations Official
& Human Relations Official
Complaints of housing discrimination investigated by the OHR cover the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (includes children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and disability (mental or physical), marital status and sexual orientation.
∑ Complainant will call or walk-in to the OHR to discuss their complaint with a knowledgeable staff member. If complainant calls and the complaint meets the requisite standards, an appointment will be scheduled to come to the office, complete and sign the paperwork necessary to file an official complaint. If complainant walks-in and the complaint meets the requisite standards, an appointment will be scheduled or complainant may complete and sign the necessary paperwork during the office visit, the time for which being subject to openings in the schedule and staff availability.
∑ Complainant will need to complete one or more information gathering forms such as Questionnaires and Affidavits. Some basic information you will need to supply is your name as shown on a photo identification document, e.g., a valid driversí license, a valid identification card, passport, etc. Also needed is the complainantís current address and phone number, the address of the property involved (apartment, house, a parcel of land for purchase) and the name and address of the alleged entity (property manager, landlord, bank, insurance company, mortgage company, etc.) or other entity or person committing the alleged discriminatory act.
∑ It is important to remember that should any of the contact information change for anyone referenced in the complaint, including complainant, prior to receipt of notification that the case is closed, the new contact information needs to be forwarded to the OHR.
∑ Provide as much information as possible about all parties involved in the alleged act of discrimination, especially important, the correct name and address of the property involved and the name and address of who you believe committed the act. Also important, if this complaint has been filed with HUD, please disclose this to the OHR at the time of contact.
∑ At the time of filing, an explanation of the entire complaint handling process will be given, including what participation is expected from the complainant.
Determining jurisdiction of a housing complaint, and, if it is covered by the housing discrimination laws can be difficult. If you think your rights have been violated, please contact the OHR and a staff member will readily assist you with any issues of housing discrimination.