Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 in Plain English

The Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act is required reading if you're selling or renting out any homes in the United States. Learn this law update here to avoid discriminating families with children and the handicapped.

RELATED: Federal Fair Housing Act - Avoiding Buyer and Tenant Discrimination

Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 - Important Details

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 laid the groundwork that outlawed discrimination against buyers and tenants based on race, color, religion, sex and nationality.

The Fair Housing Amendment Acts of 1988 that we will be discussing here was the big update to this law. It expanded the original Act to protect disabled people and families with children from discrimination as well.

The amendment also granted the HUD greater power in resolving discrimination complaints. Before 1988, HUD's role was limited to investigation and conciliation (getting both parties to resolve the complaint peacefully without legal action).

The Amendments Act allowed HUD to bring charges against a errant landlord or seller and appoint a judge to hear the case. The ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) is able to impose fines on the respondent (landlord/seller) and award damages to the complainant (tenant/buyer).

Avoiding Discrimination of Disabled Persons

Definition of a disabled person: Someone with a physical or mental ability that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes people with hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism and chronic mental illness.

In addition to the standard discrimination laws, landlords also have to allow disabled tenants to make reasonable alterations (e.g. hand rails, ramps etc) to their rental housing and common areas... if such changes are required for the tenant to access and use the property.

In return, the landlord doesn't have to pay for the alternations and can require the tenant to restore the dwelling to its original move-in condition at the end of the lease.

Landlords also have to give in to reasonable concessions that will allow disable tenants to access and use their housing.

Examples include reserved parking spot for the physically handicapped and guide dogs for the visually impaired (in cases where the lease has no pet policy).

Avoiding Discrimination of Families with Children

Definition of family with children under the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act:

  • Parent(s) staying with at least one child under 18
  • Legal guardian staying with at least one child under 18
  • Pregnant women

Tenants who fit the one of the above conditions will be protected by standard discrimination laws as well.

Landlord Tenant Law