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If you believe you may have been discriminated against while trying to buy, finance or rent a home or apartment in Texas, you may submit a discrimination complaint through the TWC Civil Rights Division. You may submit a complaint within one year from the date of alleged harm but you should submit it as soon as possible. How to Submit a Housing Discrimination Complaint explains what to do to submit a complaint.
The Texas Fair Housing Act and the U.S. Fair Housing Act protect you from discriminatory housing practices in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, or familial status (presence of a child under age 18 living with parents or legal custodians, person securing custody of children under 18, or a pregnant woman).
The Texas Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the law exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members. Also, housing developments that qualify as housing for persons age 55 or older may be exempt from the provisions barring discrimination on the basis of familial status.
Everyone who lives in the United States is protected from discrimination in housing; sale, rental, and financing of dwellings; lending; home appraisal; insurance and accessibility. Fair housing means you may freely choose a place to live without regard to your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.
It is illegal for anyone to:
Under the U.S. Fair Housing Act and Texas Fair Housing Act, no one may take any of the following actions in the sale and rental of housing or in mortgage lending based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or familial status.
Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, the owner or manager may not discriminate based on familial status.
Protection against discrimination based on familial status applies to:
Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if any of the following are true:
If you have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a record of such a disability or are regarded as having such a disability, you are legally protected against housing discrimination based on that disability. Protection against housing discrimination due to a disability also applies for a person associated with you.
A landlord may not:
If you are disabled, you may request our assistance in reading and completing our forms. Deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired customers may contact Relay Texas: 800-735-2989 (TTY) and 711 (Voice).
All properties built after March 13, 1991 must comply with design and construction requirements of the Federal and Texas Fair Housing Acts.
In buildings ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 with four or more units and an elevator:
In buildings ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 with four or more units and no elevator, these standards apply to ground floor units.
Our first step is to determine whether we have jurisdiction to investigate. If we do have jurisdiction, then we work with the person who contacted us to complete the complaint. Once we receive all the required information, we will draft the complaint and send it to you for your review and signature.
After the signed complaint is returned to us, we will notify the person or persons who allegedly discriminated against you, explain the investigation and conciliation processes, permit that person to submit a response, and invite all parties to a formal settlement meeting (mediation).
If both parties agree to mediation, one of our professional mediators will arrange a mediation meeting. If all parties can agree to a settlement with the assistance of the mediator, the matter will be resolved, all parties will sign an agreement, and the complaint will be resolved.
If a complaint cannot be resolved through mediation, an investigation of the complaint is conducted. If our investigation finds no reasonable cause of discrimination, we will notify you in writing and inform you of your right to file a civil suit, at your expense, in Federal or State District Court within two years of the alleged violation. If our Division believes there is reasonable cause of discrimination, the Director will issue a Charge of Discrimination and request the Texas Attorney General’s office to file a lawsuit against the parties who discriminated against you.
Throughout the process, the investigator will try to reach an agreement with all parties through conciliation. A conciliation agreement takes into account the interests of all parties, as well as the public interest. If an agreement is signed by all parties, we will take no further action on your complaint and the investigation is concluded. If the agreement is breached, we may recommend that the Texas Attorney General file suit.