What You Need to Know About New Jersey’s Fair Housing Act

With New Jersey’s Fair Housing Act, you cannot be denied housing on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, handicap, religion, or familial status.
Written by Nick Kunze
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
With
New Jersey
’s Fair Housing Act, you cannot be denied housing on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, handicap, religion, or familial status. 
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was a landmark victory in the Civil Rights movement. It offers protections to renters and homebuyers in all 50 states in an attempt to stop any discrimination based on race, color, sex, and other characteristics of protected classes. It also offers a way to fight back if discrimination occurs. 
Each state has its own rules in addition to the national act, so if you’re faced with discrimination in New Jersey, you’ll need to know how to file a claim. 
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Does New Jersey have a Fair Housing Act?

New Jersey does have a Fair Housing Act in addition to the national law. This act prohibits property owners, real estate agents, land brokers, landlords, condominium associations, and more from practicing discrimination in the housing market based on the following:
  • Race
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Marital status
  • And more
Under the Fair Housing Act, the following would be considered illegal:
  • A real estate agent cannot refuse to show a family a house based on race
  • A landlord cannot refuse rental to a person with a disability
  • A tenant cannot be evicted for refusing the sexual advances of the landlord
  • Requiring credit checks for one kind of family that is not required for others
  • Denying housing to a family with children under 18
As of 2022, New Jersey also enforces the
Fair Chance in Housing Act
, which stops landlords from rejecting possible tenants due to criminal history.
If you feel like you have experienced any of the above situations, you may have a legal case and can file a discrimination claim. 

Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act

Accessibility requirements are nationally mandated, as laid out in the
1991 Fair Housing Act
All new buildings for multifamily dwellings must adhere to the seven design and construction requirements outlined in the Fair Housing Act. They are:
  • Wheelchair accessible entrance
  • Wheelchair accessible public areas
  • Usable doors for those with disabilities
  • Wheelchair accessible route through each dwelling unit
  • Accessible light switches and outlets
  • Bathroom walls strong enough to support grab bars
  • Usable kitchen and bathrooms
For buildings constructed before 1991, landlords are required to make reasonable modifications if requested by a tenant. Often confused with accommodations, modifications are changes to the physical structure of a building—similar to the requirements mandated in the 1991 Fair Housing Act. 
The act also outlines the reasonable accommodations expected of a landlord. These are changes to rules, often including: 
  • Having a seeing-eye dog in a complex that does not usually allow pets
  • Allowing disabled tenants to mail rent payments instead of in-person at the rental office
  • Close parking spot for a tenant with a disability that affects their mobility
This ensures everyone has the right to comfortable housing where they can have full enjoyment of the space. If your landlord is not accommodating your requests or your housing is not in compliance with the Fair Housing Act, you can file a complaint.

How to file a fair housing complaint in New Jersey

Discrimination can be subtle or more obvious. Either way, you don't have to put up with it. If you think someone violated your right to fair housing, you need to file a complaint
To do so, head to
this link
to submit a complaint online to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
You can also file a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, as long as it is within 180 days of the violation. You can file the complaint at one of four regional offices:
City
Agency
Phone Number
South Shore Regional Office
609-441-3100
Southern Regional Office
856-486-4080
Northern Regional Office
973-648-2700
Central Regional Office
609-292-4605
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When filing a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, you'll need to provide the following:
  • Your name and address
  • Name and address of your landlord
  • Address of the home where the violation took place
  • Description of the event
  • Dates when the violation happened

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FAQ

To report your landlord in New Jersey, you need either file a claim with the US Department of Housing at
this link
Or report through the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. They have a few phone numbers listed above you can call.
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