Filing a Fair Housing Claim against a landlord or other real estate professional when you are looking for an apartment can be daunting, but About.com has step-by-step instructions on how to do so. The Fair Housing Act protects renters against discrimination in housing by allowing you to file a complaint with HUD. You don’t need to hire an attorney to do so, either.
A claim may take one to three years or even longer to be processed, so prepare to be patient. The first step in filing a complaint is to fill out the HUD’S online complaint form, which can be mailed or filled out online. You can also call to file your complaint if you prefer or even send a letter to your regional fair housing office.
The first thing that will happen is you will be contacted by a Housing and Urban Development Intake Specialist who will talk to you to gather more information on your incident to help them decide whether your case can be pursued. If they do take on your case, you will be mailed a formal complaint which you will be asked to sign if it’s correct. Be sure to read it carefully and correct any mistakes with HUD. HUD will then send a copy of your complaint to your landlord, who then send their response to HUD.
Next there will be an investigation, which may include interviewing your landlord and witnesses, after which they will try to get you and your landlord to come to a settlement. Make sure you read the conciliation agreement carefully and if you anything seems amiss, contact HUD. If HUD decides you have reasonable cause for your case, the next step is a hearing. Here a judge can rule that your landlord violated the FHA and make them pay up to $11,000 per violation if this is their first offense, plus actual damages, and lawyers’ fees.