Discrimination and Fair Housing for Renters
This article from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs provides information about discrimination and fair housing for renters.
Examples of things that might indicate unlawful rental discrimination is occurring could include (but are not limited to):
- Lying about or misrepresenting the availability of housing when housing is available
- Requiring different terms or conditions based solely on a household member's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability
- Advertising that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability
- Harassment or intimidation such as verbal threats, vandalism, or unwanted sexual advances
- A refusal to make reasonable accommodations for a person with disabilities
- Being steered to properties, buildings, or units on one side of a complex based solely on factors related to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, regardless of other available options
In addition to landlord responsibilities under the Texas Property Code, owners of TDHCA monitored rental properties must:
- Keep properties suitable for occupancy and in good repair consistent with Uniform Physical Condition Standards ("UPCS") published by HUD.
- Estimate utility costs at the property, annually review them, and make them available for inspection.
- Provide residents with a certain number of property amenities and/or services.
- Operate the property in accordance with its Land Use Restriction Agreement ("LURA"), whether or not owners or managers change.
- Offer written leases with specific terms (usually six months for the HTC program and 1 year for HOME and other federal programs).
- Provide tenants with written notice in the event of lease termination or non-renewal.
- Provide reasonable accommodations at the owner's expense (except in some HTC properties awarded before 2001).
Owners of TDHCA-monitored rental properties are prohibited from:
- Locking out or seizing property of tenants who have not paid rent.
- Charging rents in excess of program-specific rent limits that are published each year.
- Using certain lease provisions that restrict tenant rights to court and appeals processes or decisions, excuse owners from responsibility, or require tenants to pay court fees if a proceeding is won against the owner.
- Denying households for rental housing on the sole basis of the household's participation in the Section 8, HOME TBRA, or other federal rental assistance program.
- Evicting tenants for other than good cause under the lease, including retaliation for renters making discrimination complaints or assisting others in exercising his or her fair housing rights or rights to request reasonable accommodations.
- Requiring households participating in the Section 8, HOME TBRA, or other federal rental assistance program to demonstrate a monthly income of more than 2.5 times the household's share of the monthly rent (households with less than $50 of annual income are not required to demonstrate more than an annual income of $2,500).
Other than owners who are qualified to receive an exemption under the Housing for Older Persons Act (HOPA), no owner is allowed to discriminate based on familial status. These protections cover all families in which one or more children under 18 live with:
- A parent,
- A person who has legal custody of the child or children,
- The designee of the parent or legal custodian with the parent or custodian's written permission,
- Pregnant women, or
- Anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.
If a landlord is refusing to rent to you for these reasons, has included different terms or conditions in your lease or required different terms or conditions at the time of application (e.g., higher deposit or rent based solely on your household status), has separate house rules for children or families with children, or has advertised the housing unit as for "adults only," your rights may have been violated under the Fair Housing Act.