April is fair housing month, reminding us that 50 years after the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, some renters and homebuyers still face discrimination, and have little legal recourse.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination due to an individual’s:
- national origin;
- disability status; or
- familial status (presence of children in the household). [42 United States Code 3604]
Notably absent from this list are:
- sexual orientation; and
- gender identity.
Therefore, at the federal level at least, landlords and real estate agents may discriminate against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity without legal recourse.
But California has additional protections in place through the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. [Calif. Civil Code §51(e)]
The level of fair housing protection varies from state-to-state, begging the question: where else are gender identity and sexual orientation protected from housing discrimination?
Trulia clears up the confusion
For non-gender-conforming individuals and for individuals who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT), this question is more than just a curiosity. It can be necessary to making a living and having a place to live.
The newest version of Trulia’s home search app includes a Local Legal Protections feature, which answers the question:
Do legal protections exist for the LGBT community in ______?
The app answers the question based on whether anti-discrimination laws exist for:
- employment; and
- public accommodations.
Trulia estimates about 55% of U.S. housing units are covered by anti-discrimination laws for LGBT individuals.
The Local Legal Protections feature is found in every home search, on the app and on its website. Home searchers who click on a home to view its details can expand the feature to see the results.
For California home searchers, the app feature is useful for out-of-state searchers, or for those who currently live in California and are making a move to another state.
It also sheds light on the laws that protect LGBT renters and homeowners, which are not always clear.