What to Know About Idaho's Fair Housing Act

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The Idaho Fair Housing Law makes it illegal for owners, managers, brokers, salespersons, or anyone else to deny real estate transactions to anyone based on color, familial status, handicap, national origin, race, religion, or sex.
During the Civil Rights movement, Congress passed the Civil Rights act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of color, national origin, race, and sex in all 50 states. Initially, this act was focused on discrimination in hiring, promoting, and firing employees
Four years later, the 1968 Fair Housing Act was passed and more comprehensive language extended these protections to the sale, renting, and financing of homes. At this time, it also provided protection regardless of handicap or family status. Since these federal mandates, most states have passed their own additional fair housing laws
The process of how to file a discrimination complaint is different in every state, but don't let confusing paperwork stop you from asserting your right to fair housing. Jerry, the home, renters, and car insurance super app, is here to help with this guide to the Fair Housing Act in Idaho.
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Does Idaho have a Fair Housing Act?

Idaho passed the state statute Idaho Fair Housing Law Title 67-5909, which prohibits discrimination in all real estate transactions based on color, familial status, handicap, national origin, race, religion, or sex. The protected real estate transactions include but are not limited to:
  • Advertising
  • Buying
  • Financing
  • Leasing
  • Renting
  • Selling
  • Showing
The Idaho Fair Housing Act also spells out precisely to whom these rules apply. Here is an abbreviated list:
  • Advertisers
  • Apartment agents
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Contractors
  • Landlords
  • Rental and real estate agents
Here of some examples of what discrimination in the housing market can look like:
  • Advertisements stating a preference for a certain group of people over another
  • Refusal to show or submit offers for an available property
  • Refusing to allow reasonable accommodations to assist a person with a disability even when the accommodations would come at their own expense
  • Enticing or discouraging sales or rentals by implying that a neighborhood could improve or deteriorate due to a change in racial or other demographics

Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act also mandated that from March 13, 1991 going forward, all multifamily dwellings with four or more units must meet specific requirements to be more accessible such as:
  • All common use areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
  • All doors must be broad enough to accommodate wheelchairs
  • Environmental controls like thermostats, light switches, and outlets must be in accessible locations
  • Kitchens and bathrooms must be wheelchair accessible
For dwellings under four units or single-family homes, the owner or landlord must make reasonable modifications when requested. 
The federal Fair Housing Act nationally addresses both the need for reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications. Though they sound the same, they are different and have different rules. 
An individual with a disability can request a reasonable accommodation regarding the housing provider’s rules, policies, practices, or services to have full use or enjoyment of the dwelling. Common accommodation requests include:
  • Requesting a seeing-eye dog at a location that usually does not allow pets
  • Requesting a reserved parking spot located closer to the building for a tenant that has mobility concerns
  • Allowing a tenant to pay rent via mail if they are disabled in a way that will not allow them to make the payment at the rental office
A reasonable modification request is more physical and will vary depending on the disability and dwelling. Common reasonable modification requests are:
  • The widening of hallways and doorframes to allow for wheelchair access
  • Lowering kitchen cabinets 
  • Installing a grab bar in the bathroom
  • Installing a wheelchair ramp 
Tenants can make either type of request verbally or in writing. If a reasonable request is denied, a tenant who feels they have been discriminated against can file a complaint under the Fair Housing Act.

How to file a fair housing complaint in Idaho

If you think that discrimination played a role in why you were denied housing, there are actions you can take! First, complaints must be filed through your regional Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity office (FHEO). In Idaho, you are in Region X
Here are the ways you can file a Housing Discrimination Complaint:
Seattle Regional Office of FHEO
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Seattle Federal Office Building
909 First Avenue, Room 205
Seattle, Washington 98104-1000
  • Phone: Call and speak to a regional representative at:
1-(206) 220-5170
TTY 1-(206)220-5185
You can also speak with an FHEO intake specialist by calling 1-800-669-9777 or 1-800-877-8339.
There are time limits on when a tenant can file a complaint, so it is vital that you file a complaint right away. The PDF form is available in Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Once a complaint is filed, several steps occur, with the end result being a decision based on the findings of the HUD ALJ (Administrative Law Judge). If it is deemed that a violation of the Fair Housing Act occurred, one of the following relief decisions can be ordered:
  • Compensation for physical or emotional damages including out-of-pocket expenses
  • Permanent injunctive relief: the court orders for the discrimination to cease
  • Equitable relief: such as making the housing available to the tenant
  • Payment of attorney’s fees
  • Payment of civil penalty

State agency vs. local offices

You can choose to report your complaint directly to the FCHR or find assistance from a local fair housing agency. Here is a list of other local agencies and resources:

How to save money on home and renters insurance in Idaho

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In Idaho, reports of unfair housing practices are made through the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity office by completing the HUD Form 903 Online Complaint form. You can also download the HUD packet and email the form to Civil Rights Complaints: ComplaintsOffice10@hud.gov.
If you feel like you were a victim of housing discrimination but you are unsure or nervous about filing a claim, contact a local agency like the Idaho Human Rights Commission at 1-203-334-2873. They can walk you through the process.

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