WHY YOU CAN TRUST JERRY
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By Bonnie Stinson
Updated on Jun 7, 2022
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff, Staff Editor.
Under the South Carolina Fair Housing Law, it is against the law for someone to deny you housing or mortgage financing on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin, physical or mental handicap, or familial status.
The 1968 Fair Housing Act was a huge step forward in protecting renters and home buyers across the United States. Every state now has a fair housing law to prevent discrimination and ensure equitable access to housing. In addition, protections based on gender and sexual identity are now part of the FHA’s guarantee as of 2021.
Knowing your rights ahead of time can give you an upper hand if they are ever violated. While you have protection in every state, the process of filing a complaint will vary from state to state. Here’s a guide for you from Jerry, the homeowners, renters, and car insurance super app that has your back when it comes to fair housing.
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Does South Carolina have a Fair Housing Act?
Yes, they do. You can read the fair housing section of the South Carolina law books under Title 31, Chapter 21. These laws ensure that it is illegal to do any of the following in South Carolina purely on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin, physical or mental handicap, or familial status:
- Refuse to rent or sell a property following a legitimate offer
- Falsely claim that a home or apartment is not available
- Print or publishany notice or advertisement that indicates a preference for one group over another
- Set outdifferent conditions for you on a rental agreement, housing contract, or loan than someone else
- Refuse a mortgage application entirely
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations for you or a disabled family member
It’s worth pointing out that age is not a protected category under these statutes. However, it is illegal to deny housing to a family with children under 18 (so long as it’s not a 55+ housing community).
To whom do these laws apply? These laws bind anyone selling or renting a property in South Carolina. That includes brokers, banks, developers, real estate agents, landlords, and more.
If you feel discrimination played a part in why you had trouble looking for your new home, you have the right to file a complaint with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission.
Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act
The fair housing laws in South Carolina include specific accessibility requirements to ensure that buildings are accessible to people with disabilities.
The 1991 Fair Housing Act instituted these additional federal requirements that address the need for reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications in any multifamily dwelling. It’s important to understand the difference.
A reasonable accommodation is when someone with a disability requests a change or exception to the building’s policies to have full use and enjoyment of the dwelling. Here are some common examples of accommodations:
- Allowing a seeing-eye dog in a facility that otherwise does not allow pets
- Reserving a parking spot close to the building if mobility challenges require it
- Accepting online payments when in-person payments are usually preferred
A reasonable modification request is usually related to the physical space. These requests are typically tailored to the individual and the dwelling. Common reasonable modification requests are:
- Installing a door wide enough for wheelchair users
- Installing at least one accessible entrance unless the terrain prevents it
- Moving light switches, thermostats, and outlets to accessible locations
- Installing a grab bar and reinforced walls in the bathroom
If a landlord refuses to accommodate your disability, consider filing a complaint under the Fair Housing Act.
How to file a fair housing complaint in South Carolina
Let’s say you’re facing a situation where discrimination is a factor. Perhaps a landlord claimed that the property is unavailable, even though you just saw them show it to another potential tenant. Maybe you applied for a mortgage but were turned down, despite meeting the bank’s requirements.
If you suspect that your race, national origin, sex, disability, or religion made you a target for housing discrimination, you can report the offending party and try to claim damages through a fair housing inquiry.
You have 180 days from the date of the alleged event to file with the state body, or one year if you choose to file with the federal body.
Here’s how you can file a fair housing complaint in South Carolina:
- Visit the office to speak with a Housing Intake Investigator (1026 Sumter Street, Suite 101, Columbia, SC, 29201)
- Submit a Fair Housing Complaint Questionnaire online
- Call the office at 803-737-7800 to make your complaint
The average processing time in South Carolina for fair housing complaints is 100 days.
You can also have the option to report directly to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The South Carolina Commission will work with HUD to investigate your case. Possible outcomes include injunctions, restraining orders, and financial compensation.
State agency vs. local offices
In most cases, reporting to the state body is the best way to deal with housing discrimination in South Carolina. However, sometimes it’s faster to go through a local fair housing agency. If you live in one of the municipalities or jurisdictions listed below, here’s the agency you’ll need to go to:
|Berkeley County||Fair Housing Department|
|Spartanburg||Fair Housing Services|
|Fairfield||Fairfield Fair Housing|
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How to save money on home and renters insurance in South Carolina
Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, you are protected by the Fair Housing Act in South Carolina. Once you find a place to call home, it’s important to protect it with a great insurance policy—Jerry can help make it happen.
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How do I report a landlord in South Carolina?
To report a landlord for unfair housing practices in South Carolina, contact the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission at 803-737-7800. Alternatively, you can visit their office in Columbia or report it directly to the federal body, HUD.