NJ Issues Updated Information On Fair Housing Laws

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TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Division on Civil Rights Director Craig T. Sashihara today issued an updated notice discussing the rights of housing buyers and renters, as well as the obligations of property sellers and real estate professionals.

The two-page document is available to any member of the public and must, by rule of the New Jersey Real Estate Commission, be provided by licensed real estate brokers and salespersons to anyone listing a property with them for rent or sale.

“This is an important document because it provides clear, up-to-date information on housing discrimination laws,” said Hoffman. “It is vital that anyone who is selling property or listing it for rent in New Jersey have an understanding of their legal obligations, and that those who are buying or renting property are aware of their legal rights.”

“Although this is not intended to be a comprehensive treatise on fair housing law, it is recommended reading because it highlights some fundamental principles for real estate professionals and their clients, so that they’ll be aware of the rights and obligations imposed by anti-discrimination statutes,” said Sashihara.

Sashihara noted that the memorandum issued today is similar in content to prior state notices on housing sales and rentals, but is intended to highlight key aspects of the state Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act.

The memorandum explains that state and federal fair housing laws apply to a wide range of housing-related activities including the advertisement, sale, rental, lease, sublease, assignment and showing of property, including open land. It discusses a number of discrimination-related issues that can attend such transactions including:

  • Landlords must permit a tenant who has a disability — at that tenant’s own expense — to make reasonable modifications to the premises, if such modifications are needed to give the tenant full enjoyment of those premises.
  • A “No Pets” rule cannot be enforced to prevent a person with a disability from using a service animal such as a guide dog. A landlord may not charge a tenant with a disability an extra fee for keeping a service animal.
  • Discrimination based on “source of lawful income used for mortgage or rental payments,” means, for example, that a landlord cannot reject a prospective tenant because he or she intends to rely on a Section 8 rental voucher, a housing voucher issued to Superstorm Sandy victims by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or other types of rental subsidy.
  • Discrimination based on “familial status” prohibits discrimination against families with a child or children under 18 years old, and includes pregnant women.

Members of the public seeking additional information about the LAD or the Fair Housing Amendments Act, or who have questions about discrimination in the sale or rental of real property, are urged to visit the Division on Civil Rights Web site at www.NJCivilRights.gov or call the Division’s Housing Hotline at 866-405-3050.

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