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

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As a Michigan tenant, state and federal laws protect you from housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, and more.
While Title VIII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act—otherwise known as the Fair Housing Act—protects those seeking to rent or buy a home across all 50 states, each state can have its own additional fair housing protections. 
Understanding those protections is essential so you can take proper action if you experience an instance of housing discrimination. That’s why Jerry, the licensed broker, and insurance comparison app, is here to help familiarize you with some of the basics of Michigan’s fair housing laws. Read on to learn what kinds of protections the Fair Housing Act includes as well as how you can file a complaint if necessary.
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Does Michigan have a Fair Housing Act?

The federal Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act) and Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act makes housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, height, or weight.
These laws ensure the rights of these protected classes when it comes to buying or renting a home, seeking financing for a home (and the terms that are offered to you), or searching for renters or home insurance.
Examples of discrimination could include:
  • Worse loan terms and conditions based on a protected class status
  • Refusal to show a prospective tenant a home or apartment
  • Refusal to rent a unit to a tenant
  • Refusal to make reasonable accommodations for a disability
  • Refusal to accept a rental or mortgage application
If you believe you’ve experienced housing discrimination, you can file a report or get more information from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR).

Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act

State and federal laws require Michigan landlords to make reasonable accommodations and modifications for a tenant’s disability. These can include structural changes that make a unit more accessible, as well as changes to policies, practices, and such that would allow a person with disabilities to more easily use or enjoy a dwelling unit, including common use areas.
Examples of reasonable accommodations and modifications include:
  • Allowing a service animal in a rental unit that doesn’t allow pets
  • Reserving an accessible parking space for a tenant with a disability
  • Allowing a tenant to move to a ground-floor rental unit
  • Installing handrails inside a rental
  • Installing an entrance ramp
  • Modifying rent payment schedules to accommodate when a tenant receives income assistance
A landlord can deny a reasonable accommodation request under certain circumstances, like if the changes would cause an “undue financial burden,” but generally, they’re considered necessary “when there is an identifiable relationship…between the requested accommodation or modification and the individual’s disability,” according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
If you believe a landlord’s denial of a reasonable accommodation request is discriminatory, you can file a complaint with HUD or the MDCR.

How to file a fair housing complaint in Michigan

If you’ve experienced housing discrimination, you have several options for filing a complaint. Michigan residents statewide can file complaints with the MDCR, and you can also make reports or get more information about the process and what it involves at various regional offices (more on those soon!).
Here are the general steps you can take to file a housing discrimination complaint with the MDCR:
  • You can fill out an online complaint request here.
  • Call the MDCR at 1-800-482-3604 for additional information or to file a complaint
  • Email MDCR-INFO@michigan.gov for additional information or to file a complaint
  • Visit www.Michigan.gov/MDCR for additional information
You can also file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

State agency vs. local offices

Michigan residents statewide can file fair housing complaints via the MDCR or with a regional fair housing office. To see what region you fall under, you can view the map shown here. Those agencies are:
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To report a Michigan landlord for unfair housing practices, you can file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Complaints can be filed online, by calling 1-800-482-3604 or by emailing MDCRServiceCenter@michigan.gov.

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