Rental Application Discrimination Help - Part 2
Other Option: Free Legal Aid for Low-Income Individuals
If you and your family qualify as low-income, you may be able to receive free legal assistance to help fight your case as well. Several national and local organizations provide free legal aid to individuals for civil rights violations. Such organizations include:
The Legal Aid Justice Center.
American Civil Liberties Union.
It's important to note that fully certified attorneys are required to perform a certain number of "pro bono" or free legal advice and assistance each year. As a low-income individual with a compelling case, you may be able to find free legal aid from a local attorney. However, the Legal Aid Justice Center, the ACLU, or a local free legal aid association may also be able to help your case.
How to Prove Discrimination
It's not enough to believe that illegal actions took place; you'll need to make sure that you can prove it. You will need to provide more than just your suspicions. Without some compelling evidence, neither HUD nor a free legal aid service will be able to provide you with the assistance you need.
In most cases, the federal government will use what is known as the "disparate impact" policy to try to determine if housing discrimination has occurred. Under this policy, the government will attempt to see if a specific housing policy may negatively affect a certain group of people due to the way it is written or enacted. If that is found to be the case, the government may determine that discrimination either exists or is highly likely.
Beyond that, you will need to gather your evidence even if this may not always be easy and can sometimes be very difficult.
Consider collecting all of the following pieces of information, if you can:
Text messages or emails.
Voice recordings (Warning: Be aware of audio recording laws in your state before recording a conversation with another individual without their consent
Any written or spoken language indicating discriminatory attitudes is evidence to support your case. You may also want to look into whether other potential renters have filed similar actions against the same landlord or Rental Company, and what the outcomes were. If you are not sure whether discrimination is a factor, you could try asking a friend from a different group to apply using similar criteria. If they are treated differently or receive offers that you did not receive, you will have evidence. You will have a more convincing case if communication is carried out in writing. Wherever possible, try to conduct formal communication via e-mail, text message, or other forms of communication that leave a written record.
It is important that you attempt to gather information at the first sign of a problem. You need evidence to help you better prove your case. Be sure to file your case promptly. Legally, you have one year to file your case, after which point HUD will no longer consider your case.
Rental discrimination is illegal, and some agencies and lawyers will help you pursue a case. You should always remember, though, that as with any legal issue, you will need evidence to prove your claims, and that proving discrimination can be difficult. Be aware of the laws and your legal rights, watch for signs of illegal acts, and be sure to communicate in writing and keep all communications. In some cases, property owners are less likely to resort to discriminatory patterns if they see that they are dealing with clients who know their rights, so just being aware of the law can help you!