What You Need to Know About Colorado’s Fair Housing Act

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Under the Colorado Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal for landlords, brokers, real estate agents, or banks to deny anyone housing or mortgage financing based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status (pregnant women and those with children under 18), or religion. 
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 is a landmark federal law making explicit acts of racial and other forms of discrimination illegal. Since its passage, many people have brought suspected discrimination cases to court and won, and accessible housing has become more available to people with disabilities. 
Still, many people who feel discriminated against don’t know how or where to file a complaint. Because that process can vary from state to state, homeowners, renters, and car insurance super app Jerry has put together this guide with everything you need to know about fair housing in Colorado. 
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Does Colorado have a Fair Housing Act?

Yes! Colorado implemented its own Fair Housing Laws in 1959, before the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 came to be. In fact, Colorado was the first state in the entire country to offer housing protection. 
Colorado Fair Housing Laws provide protections beyond the primary seven (race, color, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, and religion) included in federal law. They are: 
  • Ancestry
  • Creed
  • Marital status
  • Marriage
According to Colorado Fair Housing Laws, it is illegal to: 
  • Deny or offer unfair terms in a residential or commercial real estate transaction
  • Falsely claim that housing isn’t available to someone of a certain group
  • Advertise housing only to select groups of people
  • Show houses or apartments only in specific neighborhoods
  • Refuse a mortgage application 
  • Offer discriminatory property appraisals
  • Fail to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities
  • Retaliate against someone who has exercised their rights under the Fair Housing Act
Although some groups are exempt, Colorado Fair Housing Laws discourage discrimination by all who rent out a home or apartment, sell a property, or offer a mortgage or lease.
Exemptions include single-family homes that don’t go through a broker when being rented or sold, a room being rented in a single-family home where the owner resides, and religious groups or clubs limited to members only. 
If you believe you have been the victim of housing discrimination in Colorado, you can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD). 

Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act

Colorado Revised Statute 24-34-502.2 lays out accessibility requirements for fair housing in the Centennial State. 
The 1991 Fair Housing Act mandates these requirements for reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications necessary in multifamily housing. However, while they sound the same, they are different and have different rules.
Housing providers must provide reasonable accommodations to allow individuals with disabilities to use and enjoy their dwellings. Common accommodations include:
  • Allowing a seeing-eye dog at a location that typically does not allow pets
  • Providing a reserved parking spot close to the building for a tenant with mobility impairment
  • Allowing a disabled young person to live with their parent in a 55+ community
A reasonable modification request is a structural change made to the premises and varies depending on the type of disability and the dwelling. Common reasonable modification requests are:
  • Installation of a ramp into a building
  • Installation of visual fire alarms or doorbells for residents with a hearing impairment
  • Lowering the entry threshold of a unit
  • Removing or lowering kitchen and bathroom cabinets for people in wheelchairs
  • Installing grab bars in the bathroom 
You may file a complaint under the Fair Housing Act if your home does not meet these requirements or if your landlord refuses to make reasonable accommodations to suit your disability. 

How to file a fair housing complaint in Colorado

Do you believe your Colorado landlord is charging you higher rent because you have children? Are you an immigrant whose realtor will only show you housing in specific neighborhoods? 
No matter your complaint, if you’re a victim of housing discrimination, there are steps you can take
To begin, file a complaint with one of the following agencies:
  • The Denver Metro Fair Housing Center provides information and assistance to individuals who have questions about or who have experienced housing discrimination. For help filing a complaint, you can visit their website or call them at (720)-279-4291.
  • You may file a complaint directly with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Civil Rights. As a result of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Colorado Civil Rights Division and HUD, the Division accepts and investigates complaints filed under both Colorado and federal law. For more information, visit their website or contact them directly at (303)-894-2997.
You can also file a report directly with the Denver HUD Fair Housing Office at (800)-877-7353 or HUD’s Discrimination Hotline at (800)-669-9777, or download HUD’s discrimination complaint form on their website. 
Any of the agencies will investigate the complaint at no cost to you and take the appropriate action, but complaints must be filed within one year of the alleged act of discrimination

State agency vs. local offices

In most cases, reporting to the Colorado Civil Rights Division is the best way to deal with housing discrimination in Colorado. However, some jurisdictions have their own fair housing agencies. If you live in one of these areas, here’s the agency you’ll need to go to:
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FAQ

There are several ways to report a landlord for housing discrimination in Colorado. Your best bet is to contact the Colorado Civil Rights Division directly, though you can also go through HUD or the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center.

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