Age Discrimination in Virginia Apartments

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Discrimination based on age is prohibited in Virginia. This means that landlords cannot discriminate against the tenant on the basis of age Virginiadwhich is defined as someone 55 and over. Additionally, children and families are also protected from discrimination.

Elderly

Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against people older than 55 in Virginia. Discrimination is defined broadly and covers evicting a tenant based on their age, restrictive covenants based on age, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their age, interfering with a tenant's use and enjoyment of the property based on their age, refusing to provide municipal services based on age, denying an apartment or application based on their age, denying a loan based on their age, advertising an apartment that's for or not for a person based on their age, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant's age, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their age, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on age, building a place that is inaccessible, discouraging tenants by renting by saying people of a certain age live in the neighborhood, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant's age, and pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain age in the neighborhood. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

These protections extend to discrimination of a person's perceived age. Thus, if a landlord believed a person was over 55 but they are not, it would still be discriminatory to treat them differently. For example, an email may be written in a way that makes a 30-year old seem older and the landlord may have denied their application based on the belief that they are over 60. This would still be discrimination. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

One major exception: Virginia allows apartments that are intended for the elderly are permitted to only accept elderly people and be advertised as such. In other words, landlords are free to discriminate based on age or familial status in elderly homes. This is intended to protect the existence of elderly homes and elderly assistance programs. If there is a building with tenants of a mixed age, this exception will most likely not apply and it does not cover other forms of discrimination. Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Young Adults

discrimination based on age only covers people 55 and over in Virginia. Therefore, young adults and college students are not covered. Landlords are free to deny housing, charge higher rent, provide different amenities, or otherwise treat adults between 18 and 55 less favorably than other age groups.

Children

Landlords cannot treat children or families with children differently. It's prohibited by federal law under the Fair Housing Act as discrimination based on "familial status". This includes denying housing, advertising a unit as "no children allowed", charging different rent, placing families in certain parts of the building, and denying access to facilities or amenities. This includes prohibiting children from using facilities, such as laundry rooms or pools. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Children are also protected by this state's own fair housing law, which offers similar protections. This gives tenants the opportunity to report the issue to state or local authorities, in addition to federal authorities. Virginia law expands the protections to situations where the tenant is discriminated against because of the mistaken belief that they are a child. So if, for example, a landlord denies housing to someone because they thought they were under 18 but in actuality, they were not, that would be illegal under state law. Tenants should report such issues to state authorities. These protections apply even the person is not actually a child, but the landlord acted in a discriminatory way based on a belief that they are under 18. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Exemptions for Second Homes

Virginia includes an exception intended for landlords who are renting out their second homes. The law is intended to reduce the compliance burden for such non-professional landlords. Specifically, landlords who rent fewer than 4 single-family houses do not have to abide by most of the discrimination laws.

Such exemptions do not typically apply to discriminatory advertising (e.g., "Only accepting tenants over 40") or where the landlord uses a professional property manager.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Virginia has an exception called the "Murphy Rule", which is intended to allow landlords to rent out extra rooms in their home without a large compliance burden. If the apartment is in the landlord's own residence, then the landlord is free to discriminate regarding whom they rent to. This exception only applies to smaller homes, specifically where the house or building has four or fewer apartment units.

This exemption does not typically apply to advertising (e.g., "Only accepting white tenants") or where the landlord uses a professional property manager or other real estate professional. Some states may have additional see restrictions. See state law for more details.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Enforcement

The consequences are different based on whether the discrimination is against children or adults.

If the discrimination was against children or familial status, the tenant has a choice of whether to report the problem to Virginia authorities or federal authorities (or both). It's generally best for tenants to notify both authorities where possible, but they will most likely get a faster response from the state.

If the issue involves discrimination against someone over 55 , then the victim must report it to Virginia authorities because there is no federal protection for age discrimination.

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the federal government? The most recent year we have data is from 2016. In 2016, HUD addressed 63.4% (61.1% from Virginia) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 8 out of the 90 discrimination complaints from Virginia concerned discrimination against children or familial status (age discrimination is not otherwise enforced by the federal government). Landlords that violate the federal Fair Housing Act can face civil penalties up to $16,000 for a first violation and $65,000 for future violations (each act of discrimination is a separate violation). In cases where the Justice Department is involved, civil penalties may rise to $100,000 per violation and federal courts can add additional damages. Landlords should also keep in mind the time and costs involved in defending against an action by the federal government. About 36% of complaints end up with a charge or settlement, based on 2016 data. Data.gov

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of Virginia or a local government? They may ask the tenant for information to help bring the case, including any evidence (e.g., emails and pictures). If the government finds there's sufficient information between the tenant's complaint (as well as complaints from other tenants), the landlord may be charged and taken to court to defend themselves. Landlords will likely receive fines if they lose. The amount of the fines will be determined in part by the severity of the issue. Fines increase significantly for repeat offenders. Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 . Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 .

Reporting a Violation

Tenants may report violations of federal laws (i.e., discrimination against children and families) through the HUD website - it can be done online or via phone. Tenants can report issues to their state government by looking at the state website. A google search for "report fair housing violation in Virginia" will likely provide applicable information. In either case, tenants may be able to call the number on the page to ask whether their situation legally qualifies as rental discrimination.

Retaliation by the Landlord

Federal law (the https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaintFair Housing Act ) makes it illegal for landlords to harass a tenant in retaliation for reporting a problem. Examples of such harassment may include raising the rent or threatening to evict the tenant. Each such attempt is an additional violation. These protections do not apply if the tenant complained about something that they don't have right to, so tenants should know whether it's a violation. 7 such cases were filed with the federal government from in last year we have data (2016). Data.gov. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

Elderly

Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against people older than 55 in Virginia. Discrimination is defined broadly and covers evicting a tenant based on their age, restrictive covenants based on age, denying an applicant the opportunity to inspect the apartment based on their age, interfering with a tenant's use and enjoyment of the property based on their age, refusing to provide municipal services based on age, denying an apartment or application based on their age, denying a loan based on their age, advertising an apartment that's for or not for a person based on their age, refusing to make reasonable accommodations based on a tenant's age, refusing to allow the tenant to make to make reasonable modifications to suit their age, charging different rent or offering different amenities based on age, building a place that is inaccessible, discouraging tenants by renting by saying people of a certain age live in the neighborhood, falsely stating an apartment is not available because of the tenant's age, and pressuring a tenant to rent or not rent based on people of a certain age in the neighborhood. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

These protections extend to discrimination of a person's perceived age. Thus, if a landlord believed a person was over 55 but they are not, it would still be discriminatory to treat them differently. For example, an email may be written in a way that makes a 30-year old seem older and the landlord may have denied their application based on the belief that they are over 60. This would still be discrimination. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

One major exception: Virginia allows apartments that are intended for the elderly are permitted to only accept elderly people and be advertised as such. In other words, landlords are free to discriminate based on age or familial status in elderly homes. This is intended to protect the existence of elderly homes and elderly assistance programs. If there is a building with tenants of a mixed age, this exception will most likely not apply and it does not cover other forms of discrimination. Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Young Adults

discrimination based on age only covers people 55 and over in Virginia. Therefore, young adults and college students are not covered. Landlords are free to deny housing, charge higher rent, provide different amenities, or otherwise treat adults between 18 and 55 less favorably than other age groups.

Children

Landlords cannot treat children or families with children differently. It's prohibited by federal law under the Fair Housing Act as discrimination based on "familial status". This includes denying housing, advertising a unit as "no children allowed", charging different rent, placing families in certain parts of the building, and denying access to facilities or amenities. This includes prohibiting children from using facilities, such as laundry rooms or pools. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Children are also protected by this state's own fair housing law, which offers similar protections. This gives tenants the opportunity to report the issue to state or local authorities, in addition to federal authorities. Virginia law expands the protections to situations where the tenant is discriminated against because of the mistaken belief that they are a child. So if, for example, a landlord denies housing to someone because they thought they were under 18 but in actuality, they were not, that would be illegal under state law. Tenants should report such issues to state authorities. These protections apply even the person is not actually a child, but the landlord acted in a discriminatory way based on a belief that they are under 18. 18 Va. Admin. Code 135-50-80 , Va. Code 36-96.3 , Va. Code 36-96.5 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.3 .

Exemptions for Second Homes

Virginia includes an exception intended for landlords who are renting out their second homes. The law is intended to reduce the compliance burden for such non-professional landlords. Specifically, landlords who rent fewer than 4 single-family houses do not have to abide by most of the discrimination laws.

Such exemptions do not typically apply to discriminatory advertising (e.g., "Only accepting tenants over 40") or where the landlord uses a professional property manager.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Exception for Landlord-Occupied Homes

Virginia has an exception called the "Murphy Rule", which is intended to allow landlords to rent out extra rooms in their home without a large compliance burden. If the apartment is in the landlord's own residence, then the landlord is free to discriminate regarding whom they rent to. This exception only applies to smaller homes, specifically where the house or building has four or fewer apartment units.

This exemption does not typically apply to advertising (e.g., "Only accepting white tenants") or where the landlord uses a professional property manager or other real estate professional. Some states may have additional see restrictions. See state law for more details.

Va. Code 36-96.2 , Va. Code 36-96.7 , Va. Code Sec. 36-96.2 .

Enforcement

The consequences are different based on whether the discrimination is against children or adults.

If the discrimination was against children or familial status, the tenant has a choice of whether to report the problem to Virginia authorities or federal authorities (or both). It's generally best for tenants to notify both authorities where possible, but they will most likely get a faster response from the state.

If the issue involves discrimination against someone over 55 , then the victim must report it to Virginia authorities because there is no federal protection for age discrimination.

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the federal government? The most recent year we have data is from 2016. In 2016, HUD addressed 63.4% (61.1% from Virginia) of discrimination cases resolved in the year they were filed. 8 out of the 90 discrimination complaints from Virginia concerned discrimination against children or familial status (age discrimination is not otherwise enforced by the federal government). Landlords that violate the federal Fair Housing Act can face civil penalties up to $16,000 for a first violation and $65,000 for future violations (each act of discrimination is a separate violation). In cases where the Justice Department is involved, civil penalties may rise to $100,000 per violation and federal courts can add additional damages. Landlords should also keep in mind the time and costs involved in defending against an action by the federal government. About 36% of complaints end up with a charge or settlement, based on 2016 data. Data.gov

What happens when a tenant reports a problem to the authorities of Virginia or a local government? They may ask the tenant for information to help bring the case, including any evidence (e.g., emails and pictures). If the government finds there's sufficient information between the tenant's complaint (as well as complaints from other tenants), the landlord may be charged and taken to court to defend themselves. Landlords will likely receive fines if they lose. The amount of the fines will be determined in part by the severity of the issue. Fines increase significantly for repeat offenders. Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 . Va. Code Sec. 36-96.17 .

Reporting a Violation

Tenants may report violations of federal laws (i.e., discrimination against children and families) through the HUD website - it can be done online or via phone. Tenants can report issues to their state government by looking at the state website. A google search for "report fair housing violation in Virginia" will likely provide applicable information. In either case, tenants may be able to call the number on the page to ask whether their situation legally qualifies as rental discrimination.

Retaliation by the Landlord

Federal law (the https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaintFair Housing Act ) makes it illegal for landlords to harass a tenant in retaliation for reporting a problem. Examples of such harassment may include raising the rent or threatening to evict the tenant. Each such attempt is an additional violation. These protections do not apply if the tenant complained about something that they don't have right to, so tenants should know whether it's a violation. 7 such cases were filed with the federal government from in last year we have data (2016). Data.gov. Dept of Housing and Urban Development.

Last Update : September 12, 2018 UTC

Comments discussing Age Discrimination

11 months ago
2
votes

How old is to old to live alone
Renter in Conroe, TX, USA
Age Discrimination
Until you are healthy, be able to manage your life all by yourself or with some minimal help.
Renter in Portland, OR, USA