What You Need to Know About the Texas Fair Housing Act

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The Texas Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination in the housing market based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. These rules apply to landlords, banks, agents, and brokers concerning rental applications and mortgage qualifications.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 stemmed from the work of underrepresented segments of the population and advocated for change during the Civil Rights movement. This Act ensures safe and fair housing for everyone. As times change, the Act has evolved, and as of 2021, protected classes include gender identity and sexual orientation.
Since The Fair Housing Act applies to all 50 states, each state has added its unique nuance, and the process of filing a complaint will vary based on where you live. Jerry, the super app for homeowners, renters, and car insurance, will help you figure it all out. Here is some information you need to know about fair housing in Texas.
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Does Texas have a Fair Housing Act?

Yes! The Texas Fair Housing Act is a part of Texas's property codes. You'll find it listed under Title 15. Chapter 301 Fair Housing Practices. This Act defines who is protected, who the law applies to, and what acts are considered discriminatory. In Texas, it is illegal for people involved in residential real estate to limit, make a preference, or discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Acts of discrimination include:
  • Sale or Rental: Refusing to sell, rent, or negotiate after receiving a bona fide offer
  • Publication: Advertising a preference for one group of people over another
  • Inspection: Stating a residence is no longer available to one group, while it is open to another
  • Entry into Neighborhood: Barring a protected class from residing in a particular neighborhood
  • Disability: Denying housing to someone due to their disability or the disability of someone associated with them
  • Brokerage Services: Denying access to memberships or organizations based on characteristics of a protected class
Section 301.041 of the Texas code sites some exemptions to these rules for landlords who own three or fewer properties, religious organizations, and housing for the elderly.
If you feel that your options were limited or that your rights were violated while you were looking for a new home, you can file a complaint with The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

Accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act

1991 Fair Housing Act expanded the 1968 Fair Housing Act to provide enhanced protections for people with disabilities. This federal law requires landlords and owners to accept requests for reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications from tenants.
Individuals with a disability or someone on their behalf can request a reasonable accommodation to specific policies or rules. Common accommodation requests are:
  • Allowing a seeing-eye dog at a location with a no pet policy
  • Adjusting rent due dates to line up with when a resident receives their government assistance 
  • Granting a health aid access to areas like the laundry room, which is usually reserved for tenants
A reasonable modification request is a physical change that will allow the tenant full access and enjoyment of their space. These types of changes can be small, like adjusting the location of light switches, while others are more structural such as raising or lowering the heights of kitchen counters or the widening of doorways to allow for wheelchair access.
Not all individuals with disabilities require additional assistance, but those that do deserve to live in a safe and comfortable environment just like everyone else does. If your request for a reasonable modification or accommodation has gone unanswered, file a discrimination complaint with TWC.

How to file a fair housing complaint in Texas

You found the perfect apartment for your family and everything was great until the landlord started asking you questions about the handicapped tag on your van. Then, all of a sudden, the apartment wasn't available. 
Maybe your real estate agent only shows you homes in neighborhoods where you will be more comfortable despite your request for different locations. Discrimination comes in many forms and if it ever happens to you, there are actions you can take. 
There are a few ways to report housing discrimination in Texas, with the TWC, the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD), or with a local housing office. Complaints can be filed by email, fax, in person, online, or mailed—however, the TWC prefers complaints to be filed electronically with this form. All fair housing complaints must be filed within one year of the incident. Here is the information you will need to provide: 
  • Your name and address
  • Name and address of the person your complaint is against 
  • The address of the property involved
  • A short description of the incident
  • The date(s) of the violation
Here's how to file a complaint with Texas Workforce Commission:
Fill out the following form: PDF complaint form
Mail to: Texas Workforce Commission
Civil Rights Division
1117 Trinity Street, Room 144-T
Austin, Texas 78701
Fax: 512-463-2643
Here's how to file a complaint with HUD:
Fill out the following form: PDF complaint form
Mail to: Texas Workforce Commission
Fort Worth Regional Office of FHEO
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
801 Cherry Street, Unit #45
Suite 2500
Fort Worth, Texas 76102

State agency vs. local offices

If you live in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, or Garland, you will need to file a complaint with a local agency. There are also a few local agencies you can reach out to for additional assistance:
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If you need to report your landlord for unfair housing practices in Texas, file a complaint directly with the TWC by filling out this electronic form. If you live in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, or Garland, you will need to file your complaint with your local housing authority. Visit the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for the appropriate forms for your city.

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