President Biden recently announced an extension in LGBTQ+ housing protections under the Federal Fair Housing Act, one of his first executive orders in office. Advocacy and non-profit groups such as the Housing Rights Center support the expansion of these protections for renters who identify as LGTBQ+, as it increases housing accessibility for all.
Prior to the pandemic, LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and gender non-conforming people, faced more discrimination and, many as a result, lack access to affordable housing.
In a 2013 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, findings showed that LGBTQ+ couples experience significant levels of discrimination when responding to advertised rental housing in metropolitan areas nationwide. In this study, heterosexual couples were favored over queer couples by 16%.
For transgender people and gender non-conforming people, housing discrimination is even more prevalent. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, nearly one quarter of transgender people report having experienced housing discrimination within the past year because of their gender identity. Roughly one in three transgender women of color experience housing discrimination, and more than one in 10 transgender people have been evicted from their homes. With the eviction moratorium coming to an end soon, there are concerns among advocates that these rates will increase.
The Fair Housing Act — aka the Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 — protects Americans from discrimination in the following circumstances:
Applying for a mortgage
Seeking housing assistance
Renting or buying a property
Participating in any other housing related activity
Seven classes are explicitly protected in the act, including color, national origin, race, religion, disability, familial status, sex, and race. Under Biden’s new legislature, the Fair Housing Act protects against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Thanks to the changes under the current administration, LGBTQ+ renters can now file complaints with HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) if they are discriminated against at any point while seeking housing.
This could include discrimination by a broker, real estate agent, rental property owner, apartment manager, mortgage professional, or anyone else involved in the housing process.
Refusal to rent or sell housing to you based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Refusal to admit you to a homeless shelter based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Telling you that housing is unavailable when it is available.
Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling.
Providing different housing services or facilities
Denying you a mortgage loan, or impose different terms or conditions on a mortgage loan based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Denying you property insurance based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Conducting property appraisals in a discriminatory manner
Harassing, coercing, intimidating, or interfering with you exercising your fair housing rights.
Even though additional protections have been added through the years, discrimination is not uncommon. If you feel like you have been discriminated against, then you have every right to file a complaint. If you live in a state with strong protection laws, then you should file a complaint with the state. In all cases, you can and should file a complaint federally with HUD. You can file a complaint with HUD either online or by calling 1-800-669-9777.
If you find yourself taking someone to court due to discrimination based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, remember, Bostock v. Clayton County--a very important case regarding LGBTQ+ housing discrimination--won out in court in favor of the defendants.
Have additional questions about your renter rights or need legal assistance? You can also contact the Housing Rights Center, who offers a Housing rights hotline and free housing counseling. Housing counselors can help you navigate how to find secure housing and how to argue your case when you file a complaint with HUD.