With funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP), Legal Aid of Arkansas is affirmatively furthering fair housing in Arkansas by providing comprehensive fair housing education and outreach services throughout the state. Legal Aid is partnering with community organizations and housing authorities across the state to increase understanding of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) among Arkansans, including previously underserved populations who may be at risk of housing discrimination.
What is the Fair Housing Act, and Who is Protected?
The FHA is a federal act of the United States that protects buyers and renters of a dwelling from discrimination based on their membership in a protected class. The classes that are protected under the FHA are:
- Race - People cannot be treated unfavorably because of their race or personal characteristics associated with race
- Color - People cannot be treated unfavorably because of their skin color or complexion
- Religion - People cannot be treated unfavorably because of their religious observance, practices, and beliefs
- National Origin - People cannot be treated unfavorably because of their place of origin or ancestry or because they have physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a specific or particular national origin group
- Sex - People cannot be treated unfavorably because of their gender; this includes protections for domestic violence survivors, protections for people who present themselves as a different gender, and prohibiting sexual harassment
- Familial Status - People cannot be treated unfavorably because they have children under the age of 18, are pregnant, or have custody or guardianship of children under the age of 18
- Disability - People cannot be treated unfavorably because of a physical or mental disability
What Conduct is Prohibited Under the FHA?
If performed on the grounds of membership in a protected class, the following are illegal:
- Refusal to rent or sell
- Refusal to negotiate for housing
- Making housing unavailable
- Denying housing
- Creating different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Providing different housing services or facilities
- Printing or publishing any statement indicating preference, limitations, or discrimination
- Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection sale, or rental
- Refusal to make reasonable accommodations and modifications for disabled persons
- Constructing inaccessible new multi-family dwellings
- Threats or retaliation
Filing a Complaint
If you believe you have been a victim of housing discrimination, apply for services with Legal Aid via this form or by calling 1-800-9 LAW AID (1-800-952-9243).
There are two options to address a fair housing violation:
- File a complaint with HUD or file a complaint with the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission
- Note: there is a one-year statute of limitations
- File a private lawsuit in state or federal court
- Note: there is a two-year statue of limitations
Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications
A reasonable accommodation is a change in a rule, policy, practice, or service of a housing provider that may be necessary to allow a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy their home. A reasonable modification is a physical change to a dwelling that may be necessary for a person with a disability to use and enjoy their home.
A request for a reasonable accommodation or modification can be made to a housing provider in writing or verbally. It's best to have the request in writing, but it is not necessary. Legal Aid has developed a guided interview that will help draft a letter requesting a reasonable accommodation or modification from a housing provider. After answering a series of questions, a request letter will generate that can be passed along to a housing provider.
Click here to begin the interview.
Become a Fair Housing Tester
Help stop housing discrimination by becoming a Fair Housing Tester with Legal Aid. New testers will attend a half-day training where they will learn about housing and civil rights laws, be assigned a tester profile, and complete at least one fair housing test. Individuals from various backgrounds are encouraged to become testers. Once you have applied to become a tester and completed training, you will be periodically contacted throughout the year to run tests. Commitment is flexible. Testers receive $50 for one day of training and additional payment for tests completed throughout the year.
Note: No real estate agents or landlords.
FHIP Presentations and Events
Below is a list of upcoming FHIP presentations and events. To schedule a free fair housing presentation from Legal Aid at your organization, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.