Fair Housing

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You Have a Right to Equal Housing Opportunities 

The Orange County Department of Human Rights and Relations is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and promoting fair housing through the investigation of housing discrimination complaints and through education and outreach.

It is against the law to discriminate against a renter or home buyer based on that person's

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Familial status (having children)
  • Age (older than 40) or
  • Veteran's status

A Landlord or Housing Provider May Not Do the Following

  • Refuse to rent or sell you a home
  • Charge more to rent or buy a home
  • Falsely claim a home is unavailable
  • Persuade you to move into or away from a certain neighborhood
  • Refuse to accommodate a disability
  • Deny any other housing transaction based on your membership in one of the protected classes (see above)

You May Have Experienced or Witnessed Housing Discrimination

Did You Know?

  • It is illegal for an apartment building owner to assign families with younger children to one particular building.
  • An apartment building owner has the right to reject an applicant because of poor housekeeping habits.
  • An apartment building owner must allow the construction of a wheelchair ramp.
  • Indicating a preference based on religion in advertising an available apartment is illegal.
  • An apartment building owner may not legally reject an applicant with a history of mental illness.
  • A rental application may not be rejected by the landlord because of the applicant’s religion.
  • When using a real estate agent, a family may not sell their house only to a white buyer.
  • A real estate agent is not allowed to limit a home search to certain neighborhoods based on the client’s race/ethnicity.
  • A loan officer may turn down an applicant because of the applicant’s lack of a steady job and income.
  • It is illegal for a loan officer to require higher down payments from Hispanic families in order to get a mortgage.

Are These Statements Familiar?

  • "Are you sure you can afford the rent?"
  • "We don't have units available for people with a disability."
  • "This neighborhood isn't child-friendly."
  • "The apartment I advertised was just rented to another person."
  • "Let me show you a neighborhood where you may feel more comfortable."

Although some of the above-referenced statements may sound wary. They may be excuses to keep you from renting or buying the home of your choice and it may be a violation of the law. Some landlords and housing providers do not make such overt or suspicious statements.

You Have a Right to File a Housing Discrimination Complaint

Orange County's Civil Rights Ordinance grants the right to residents to file a complaint of discrimination against a landlord, housing provider or any other person who violates that resident's right to fair and equal housing opportunities.

There is no cost to file a complaint. In most cases, the complaint will be "dual-filed" with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Investigators in Orange County and a HUD investigator will obtain and analyze evidence and information to determine if discrimination occurred.

If You Believe You Have Experienced a Form of Housing Discrimination...
Please contact the Orange County Department of Human Rights and Relations at 919-245-2487, or you may complete our online questionnaire in either English or Spanish.


Tenant Rights

Orange County North Carolina Declaration of Tenants Rights and Obligations

This document was prepared by the University of North Carolina School of Law Civil Legal Assistance Clinic, Orange County Justice United, EmPOWERment, Inc. and the Orange County Human Relations Commission.

Tenants with Disabilities
Fair Housing for Tenants with Disabilities: Understanding Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications (2018 Updated Edition)

This document was prepared by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Reasonable Accommodation Study Group.

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