Federal laws have made provisions, whereby any individual who feels he / she has been the victim of landlord discrimination, can contact the local Human Rights Commission or Tenants’ Union for more information on how to deal with it. As well, a federal complaint can be filed with the local office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the office of the state’s Attorney General. The phone numbers for both are to be found in the government section of any local phone book, while complaint forms are available online, or at the HUD offices, where they can be filled out and handed in.
A federal discrimination complaint should be filed within a year of the discriminatory act. It is the duty of the HUD to investigate the complaint within 100-days of the filing, and decide whether it should get an administrative hearing.
The process will involve the HUD getting a mediator to work with the complainant and the landlord to bring about conciliation, with the aim of settling the dispute. If, no settlement is reached, an administrative hearing arranged by HUD is the next step. As well, a victim of discrimination has the option of filing a lawsuit in either the federal or the state court, which must be done within two years of the discriminatory incident taking place.
It may be difficult to prove in court that discrimination was for personal reasons, but if the victim wins, then he / she is likely to receive damages, including higher rent paid as a consequence of bring discriminated against. However, bear in mind that the damages will not cover the cost of bringing the case to court. Lawsuits in the long run, not only prove to be expensive, but are often a losing proposition, as well.
Nonetheless, even if the victim decides not to go to court, what is important is to bring to the landlord’s notice that such behaviour is not only illegal, but should not be repeated, ever again.