Know Your Rights: Fair Housing & COVID-19
LAFHAC compiled facts about fair housing rights that are especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what to do if you believe your rights are violated.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released a statement about continuing fair housing at this time. The statement emphasized the importance of enforcing the fair housing laws currently in place. In particular, the Fair Housing Act protects persons from “discrimination, including harassment and intimidation, in housing and related services on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability.” These protections apply in nearly all housing transactions and residential settings nationally.
The HUD statement focused specifically on a number of scenarios directly related to COVID-19 that are illegal under the Fair Housing Act, including:
- It is illegal to make a housing decision based on stereotypes around COVID-19: a belief that a person’s race or national origin makes then more likely to be infected
- Landlords cannot make housing decisions based on the perceived disabilities of others: this may include perceived diagnoses related to COVID-19 or other conditions that are associated with virus myths or stereotypes
- Landlords have a duty to accommodate people with disabilities as needs evolve: Housing providers must make reasonable accommodations as necessary to assist individuals with disabilities adapting life activities during the outbreak
In addition to the points made by HUD, LAFHAC also wishes to emphasize:
- Sexual harassment by a housing provider is illegal: tenants are protected from sexual harassment by housing provider, including in cases where they are unable to afford rent as a result of income changes from COVID-19
- Landlords cannot evict tenants on the basis of national origin: it is illegal to evict based on national origin and for housing providers to threaten to call ICE on tenants or tenant family members if they do not move out.
- Survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence have rights under the Louisiana Violence Against Women Act: in addition to protections from eviction based on survivor status, survivors quarantined with abusers are entitled to leave leases early for their own safety
If you or someone you know is facing housing discrimination as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, contact us at (504) 596-2100 or toll free at (877) 445-2100.