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Think A Landlord Has Violated Your Civil Rights: What You Need To Know

by Layla Bryant

You've double-checked your credit, your references, and you have your deposit check ready. There's only one problem – the landlord denied your application to rent. While sometimes there are valid reasons why an application may be denied, unfortunately, there are also situations when an application is denied solely because of discrimination.

Protected Rights

Landlord-tenant discrimination revolves around a phrase known as protected rights. Protected rights encompass things about you that you can't necessarily alter, such as your sexual orientation, sexuality or ethnic background. Only when these rights are violated have you truly been discriminated against. Although it might automatically seem like your denied application is a violation, this territory can sometimes be difficult as landlords do possess a little power to discriminate when it comes to who they are willing to rent to.

For example, say you applied for an apartment and you own a small dog. Although the landlord didn't have no pets listed on the ad, they've had issue with pet damage in the past and no longer want to rent to tenants who are pet owners. This is not a violation of a protected right. On the other side of the spectrum, a property owner that denies a rental application simply because the applicants are a same-sex couple is a violation of a protected right.

When A Violation Occurs

If your protected rights have been violated, renting the apartment is probably the last thing on your mind at this point, but this doesn't mean that justice still can't be served. This type of violation typically offers two options: a private lawsuit or a claim with the government. With a private lawsuit, you can request financial compensation for your application fees, harm and suffering and any other expenses endured as a result of the landlord discriminating against you.

Another option is a claim with the government; state or federal. Once a claim has been filed, the government will initiate an investigation into the events that have taken place. This type of process comes with serious repercussions for the discriminator as they can be required to pay hefty fines to the government and they may even permanently lose their ability to participate in government-funded projects like Section 8.

It's important to note that in some states, a private lawsuit for discrimination must accompany a claim to the government.

If your rights have been violated, don't overlook the assistance of an attorney like Marie A. Mattox, P.A. In addition to helping you collect important facts and information, an attorney can also help you choose the best course of action for your situation.