Fair Housing Program
The Fair Housing Program at the Disability Law Center serves people from all protected classes (race, color, ethnicity, sex/gender, religion, disability, familial status), not just people with disabilities. This program serves Salt Lake City and all areas of Utah to ensure that an individuals housing rights are upheld and that micro or systematic discrimination is not present. If you think you might have been a victim of housing discrimination based on your membership in a protected class, contact the Fair Housing Program at the DLC!
Our staff is here to listen to your story and assist you in determining if it is covered by the Utah and Federal Fair Housing Acts. If your experience is covered by the Fair Housing Acts, an attorney or advocate will investigate your claim to determine the appropriate action to take. If it is not covered by the Acts, our staff will refer you to an agency that does handle your specific circumstances.
The Disability Law Center helps ensure that people who belong to protected classes have equal access and opportunity to rent or own homes and apartments in their communities. This work includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Ensuring that landlords and property owners do not discriminate in renting or selling property
- Making sure that housing is accessible to people with disabilities to the extent required by law
- Advocating to increase the amount of accessible, affordable and integrated housing
- Providing fair housing trainings for providers, landlords and consumers of housing
- Conducting fair housing testing to ensure that landlords are complying with fair housing laws
- Enforcing fair housing laws through administrative and judicial complaint processes
The Fair Housing Process
Usually, the first step to combating housing discrimination is to file an administrative complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency. If you want to file a housing discrimination complaint on your own, you can do so at the Utah Anti-discrimination and Labor Division (if the discrimination happened less than 180 days ago) or at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (if the discrimination happened between 180 and 365 days ago).
However, if you would like to speak with somebody on our staff, we are here to help (at no cost to you). Depending on the circumstances of your case, the DLC Fair Housing Team can provide the following services:
- Investigation: Investigative methods vary with each case. Some potential methods include witness interviews, public records searches, fair housing testing, canvassing, or legal research.
- Administrative Representation: The DLC can help you file an administrative complaint, and represent you throughout the process.
- Legal Representation in Federal Court: In very limited circumstances, the DLC may represent clients in a Fair Housing Act lawsuit in federal court.
If you do contact us about potential housing discrimination, here is what the process will look like:
- You will be asked to provide information about your experience to our intake team, who will conduct an initial evaluation. If the intake team finds the existence of possible discrimination, your case will be forwarded to a fair housing advocate or attorney.
- The fair housing advocate or attorney will contact you to discuss more details or your experience. Depending on your situation, the advocate or attorney will then conduct an investigation.
- In some situations, the DLC may file a housing discrimination administrative complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency (HUD or UALD). In other situations, the DLC may try to negotiate with your landlord to end the housing discrimination without further legal action.
The Administrative Process at HUD or UALD
- Initial intake information is provided to the agency, outlining your basic allegations of housing discrimination.
- The agency systematizes your intake information, and mails out an official housing discrimination complaint, which needs to be notarized and sent back.
- The agency conducts a preliminary investigation, and sets a date for mediation.
- At the mediation, both sides of the dispute sit down with an agency mediator. The point of this meeting is to resolve the housing discrimination claim without further legal action.
- If the mediation is not successful, the agency conducts a more detailed investigation.
- After this investigation, the agency issues a finding that there is either “cause” to believe housing discrimination occurred, or “no cause” to believe housing discrimination occurred.
- If the agency issues a “cause finding,” it can require your landlord to stop discriminating, take other measures, and issue fines up to $10,000 for a first offense.
- If the agency issues a “no cause finding,” there are several possible further steps in the appeals process.
Fair Housing Testing for all Protected Classes in Utah
The Disability Law Center (DLC) is looking for people who are interested in serving as testers in its Fair Housing Testing Program. The DLC is charged with investigating certain types of housing discrimination complaints across in the State of Utah. Federal and State fair housing laws prohibit discriminatory practices in any housing industry related business or transaction.
While blatant acts of housing discrimination occur, more often the discrimination is subtle and hard to discover. Testing is one of the most important tools fair housing agencies, housing advocacy groups and others interested in fair housing, use to uncover discrimination.
One of the most vital tools of our investigatory process is the fair housing tester. The DLC follows up complaints by creating testing situations—that is, simulations of housing transactions—to uncover violations of the fair housing laws. Testers call or visit apartments and then submit written reports about their experiences. Testers will receive a stipend for each test after completing a training session.
What we look for in a tester:
- People who enjoy engaging in role play
- People of varied backgrounds and ages
- People belonging to a “protected class” (Protected classes include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability)
- People who can give a few hours during the day and/or evening, on weekdays and/or weekends
- People who can be reached by cell phone
- People who preferably have the use of a car or feel comfortable traveling, potentially long distances by public transportation to a variety of different locations around the valley.
- People who want to get involved in a worthy cause and make a difference!
If you are interested in participating in our testing program, follow the link below to fill out an application: