Federal housing policy guarantees everyone equal access to housing opportunities. Fair Housing laws cover all housing in the United States.
The City of Minnetonka is committed to fair housing in our community. See below to learn more about your rights and find helpful resources.
Federal Housing Act
The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
- Race or color
- National origin
- Familial status
- Handicap (disability)
Minnesota Human Rights Act
The Minnesota Human Rights Act is similar to the Federal Fair Housing Act. It prohibits the same discriminations along with these additional items:
- Sexual or affectional orientation
- Marital status
- Status with regard to receipt of public assistance
The City of Minnetonka complies with all applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and does not discriminate on the basis of disability in the admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its services, programs or activities. Upon request, accommodation will be provided to allow individuals with disabilities to participate in all City of Minnetonka services, programs and activities.
- Reasonable Accommodations in Housing
- Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan – The Olmstead Plan is a series of activities our state must accomplish to ensure people with disabilities live, learn, work and enjoy life in integrated settings.
- City of Minnetonka Reasonable Accommodation Ordinance – See section 215.020
Learn more about fair housing with this video – available in four languages – courtesy of HousingLink.
What is housing discrimination?
- Treating people differently than others under the same or similar circumstances
- Refusal to make reasonable accommodations or modifications for people with disabilities
- Failure to build certain multi-family housing so that it’s accessible to people with disabilities
What kind of housing is covered?
- Property sold or rented (home, apartment, condominiums, lots, etc.)
- Boarding houses
- Public housing
- Mobile home parks
- Homeless shelters
- Sober housing
What kind of housing is not covered?
In some limited circumstances, housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members may be excluded from complying.
What is a 'protected class?'
- A group of people whom the law protects against illegal discrimination.
- A protected class is named for the characteristic that people share, such as race or religion.
- The Fair Housing Act includes seven protected classes: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status.
- The Minnesota Human Rights Act adds the following protected classes: sexual orientation, marital status, status with regard to public assistance and creed.
What does 'familial status' cover?
- This protects families with children (under 18) from housing discrimination.
- This protection also covers pregnant women and those in the process of adoption or fostering.
How does the law define 'disability?'
- “Any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, seeing, hearing, thinking, self-care, or a chronic condition (such as mental illness, AIDS, blindness, hearing impairment, mental retardation, mobility impairment, etc.)”
- Those who have a record of an impairment or are regarded as having an impairment, are also covered. Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts may also be included.
Is sexual harassment covered by fair housing law?
Yes – the law's ban on housing discrimination based on sex includes sexual harassment.
Courts have recognized two types of sexual harassment violations:
- Quid pro quo – When someone offers or requires rent in exchange for sexual favors
- Hostile environment – Sexual comments, requests for dates, unauthorized entrances or other sexual behavior so severe or pervasive that it changes the nature of tenancy
Who does the law typically apply to and affect the most?
- Real estate operators, brokers and agents
- Savings and loan associations, mortgage lenders, banks, financial institutions
- Apartment managers
- Rental agents
- Builders, contractors, developers
- Owners of building lots
- Homeowners advertising and selling their home
- Condo and town home associations
- Government agencies
What are some examples of housing discrimination?
- Advertise or indicate a preference based on a protected class
- Falsely deny that a housing unit is available
- Different terms, conditions, rules or privileges based on a protected class
- Terminate a tenancy for a discriminatory reason
- Refuse to negotiate
- More examples
Are there additional protections if you have a disability?
- Housing providers may be required to make exceptions to rules, policies and practices for people with disabilities via a "reasonable accommodation" or "reasonable modification" request.
- The Fair Housing Act requires that housing providers must: "make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling."
- Example: Waiver of a "no pets" policy for an individual who requires an animal because of their disability.
- There are very specific reasons that a request for reasonable accommodation may be denied. See “Disability Rights and Resources” on this page for more information.
What are requirements for housing to be accessible?
- The Fair Housing Act requires all "covered multifamily dwellings" designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 to be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
- “Covered multifamily dwellings” includes all dwelling units in buildings containing four or more units with one or more elevators, and all ground floor units in buildings containing four or more units without an elevator.
How do fair housing laws apply to families?
Unless a building or community qualifies as age-specific housing, it may not discriminate based on familial status, which includes families with one or more children under 18 who live with:
- A parent
- A person with legal custody of the child(ren)
- A designee of the parent or legal custodian with written permission
Does 'senior housing' fall under the prohibition against familial status discrimination?
Age-specific housing is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
- The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program.
- It is occupied solely by people age 62 and older.
- It houses at least one person who is age 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are age 55 or older.
What are Fair Housing Act standards for building accessibility?
The Fair Housing Act lists seven basic access requirement standards that must be met.
- An accessible building entrance on an accessible route
- Accessible common and public use areas
- Usable doors (usable by a person in a wheelchair)
- Accessible route into and through the dwelling unit
- Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations
- Reinforced walls in bathrooms for later installation of grab bars
- Usable kitchens and bathrooms
Can I be denied housing because I have a Section 8 voucher?
- Although "status with regard to public assistance" is protected under Minnesota laws, the Minnesota courts have found that a private housing provider can choose to not participate in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
- Some buildings with tax credits and other government funds may not reject vouchers used by qualified tenants.
If a landlord has a 'no pets' policy, can they refuse to rent to me if I need a service animal?
- No – a landlord may enforce a “no pets” policy, but guide dogs, service animals or companion animals are not considered pets. If its purpose is to assist a person with a disability, accepting an animal is a “reasonable accommodation.”
- No pet fee or additional deposit may be charged to a person with a disability for having a service animal.
Source: Fair Housing MN Resource Guide
Contact the following government agencies or complete online complaint forms linked below. The agencies will investigate (at no charge to you). If they find discrimination, they will attempt to mediate an agreement. If that fails, the agency may file a case against discriminating party.
- Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
- Minnesota Department of Human Rights
Have the following information available for each complaint:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the person your complaint is against
- The address of the housing involved
- The date(s) of the alleged violation
- A short description of the violation