Fair Housing

Fair Housing is Your Right!

Greene County, in collaboration with Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services' Fair Housing Law Center, affirmatively promotes the rights of those protected under the Fair Housing Act and Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. It is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, disability, age (40 and over), pregnancy, ancestry, the use of a support animal or because the user is a handler or trainer of such support animals. 

Fair Housing Updates

The Department of Justice reached an agreement with a New Jersey landlord owning hundreds of rental units resolving allegations of sexual harassment. Joseph Centanni has agreed to pay $4.5 million in monetary damages and a civil penalty. The United States' lawsuit alleged that Centanni's harassment spanned a period of at least 15 years. According to the complaint, Centanni demanded sexual favors to get or keep housing; offered housing benefits, such as reduced rent in exchange for sexual favors; touched tenants and applicants in a way that was sexual and unwelcome and made unwelcome sexual comments and advances to tenants and applicants. The complaint also alleged that Centanni initiated or threatened to initiate eviction actions against tenants who objected to or refused his sexual advances. Centanni participated in the federal Section 8 program and received approximately $102,000 each month in Housing Choice Voucher payments. 

The United Stated filed a complaint in United States v. Perry Homes (W.D. Pa.), alleging that Defendants, who own and/or operate three rental properties in Cranberry, Zelionople, and Harmony, Pennsylvania, had a blanket practice of exluding emotional support animals ("ESA") from dwellings that they owned or managed, causing injury to Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid, a non-profit legal aid organization whose mission includes combatting housing discrimination.

The United Stated filed an election complaint in U.S. v. Perry Homes II (W.D. Pa.). The complaint alleges that Perry Homes, the owner of multifamily rental property in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, discriminated on the basis of disability in violation of the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant requests for reasonable accommodations made by individuals in two different households at the property who sought permission to keep assistance animals. The case was referred to the Department of Justice afer HUD received two separate complaints, conducted an investigation, and issued a charge of discrimination.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
National Origin
Familial Status
State and local laws may additional protections. For example, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act also prohibits discrimination based on: 
The use of a guide or support animal because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap of the user or because the user is a handler or trainer of support or guide animals

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In very limited circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent, and housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

In the Sale and Rental of Housing:
It is illegal discrimination to take any of the following actions because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin:
• Refuse to rent or sell housing
• Refuse to negotiate for housing
• Otherwise make housing unavailable
• Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
• Provide a person different housing services or facilities
• Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
• Make, print or publish any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination
• Impose different sales prices or rental charges for the sale or rental of a dwelling
• Use different qualification criteria or applications, or sale or rental standards or procedures, such as income standards, application requirements, application fees, credit analyses, sale or rental approval procedures or other requirements
• Evict a tenant or a tenant’s guest
• Harass a person
• Fail or delay performance of maintenance or repairs
• Limit privileges, services or facilities of a dwelling
• Discourage the purchase or rental of a dwelling
• Assign a person to a particular building or neighborhood or section of a building or neighborhood
• For profit, persuade, or try to persuade, homeowners to sell their homes by suggesting that people of a particular protected characteristic are about to move into the neighborhood (blockbusting)
• Refuse to provide or discriminate in the terms or conditions of homeowners insurance because of the race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin of the owner and/or occupants of a dwelling
• Deny access to or membership in any multiple listing service or real estate brokers’ organization
In Mortgage Lending:
It is illegal discrimination to take any of the following actions based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin:
• Refuse to make a mortgage loan or provide other financial assistance for a dwelling
• Refuse to provide information regarding loans
• Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
• Discriminate in appraising a dwelling
• Condition the availability of a loan on a person’s response to harassment
• Refuse to purchase a loan
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to harass persons because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Among other things, this forbids sexual harassment. 
Other Prohibitions:
In addition, it is illegal discrimination to:
• Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise the right
• Retaliate against a person who has filed a fair housing complaint or assisted in a fair housing investigation

Housing providers must make reasonable accommodations and allow reasonable modifications that may be necessary to allow persons with disabilities to enjoy their housing.
Certain multifamily housing must be accessible to persons with disabilities.