If you're renting or looking for an apartment in Colorado, you're covered by the Fair Housing Act, a law that protects tenants and prospective tenants alike from illegal housing discrimination based on a number of protected classes.
What Is the Fair Housing Act?
Passed in 1968, the Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in home sales, financing, and rentals based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Also known as Title XIII, the FHA was part of civil rights legislation. It was amended in 1988 to expand coverage of the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on disability or familial status, which were not previously considered protected classes. The Fair Housing Amendments Act also established new enforcement mechanisms to assist victims of housing discrimination in seeking justice.
Who Is Protected under Colorado Fair Housing?
Colorado fair housing protects people based on seven protected classes. They include:
- Race: Landlords cannot consider the race of a tenant or prospective tenant when making decisions about their housing.
- Color: The color of a prospective tenant or buyer cannot play any role in a person's ability to have access to housing.
- Religion: The religion you practice or do not practice, cannot give you preferential treatment or cause you to not be considered for a property.
- National Origin: Where your family is from should not play into a landlord or sellers decision to rent or sell their property to you.
- Sex: Landlords cannot consider the sex of a tenant or prospective tenant when making decisions about their housing.
- Disability: Under the law, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that can substantially limit one or more major life activities. This can include things such as chronic illness, mental illness, HIV or AIDS, alcoholism or a physical handicap, among others.
- Familial Status: This class covers children under 18 living with parents or others with legal custody, or with a designee of the parent with written permission, a person who is pregnant or a person who is seeking custody of a person under 18. Not only can landlords not refuse to sell or rent to families with children, but they may not deem a property "adults only." In addition, if you are charged a per person rental fee, this may be considered discrimination on the basis of familial status.
In addition to these protected classes, Colorado offers legal protection based on:
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
How to Spot Discrimination
If you are told one thing on the phone by a landlord but are told different terms, pricing or availability upon a landlord seeing you in person, this is one sign that you are being discriminated against. Other red flags include being told that a different apartment might fit your situation better; having a prospective landlord tell you about background or criminal checks over and over; refusal to provide handicapped parking; and being told there is a no pets policy, even if you have a service animal, among other issues. Everyone deserves access to fair housing. If you feel you have been discriminated against, contact your local housing department.