What Can the Illinois Human Rights Act Do for You?
The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits sellers to discriminate against buyers during a sale. This means that neglecting to sell or even rent a property to someone solely based upon their race, color, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, or other elements out of a person’s control; is illegal. Homeowners must treat everyone the same, no matter what their personal feelings or opinions might be. This act is in place to protect you; if you find yourself facing discrimination while searching for a place to live, the seller or landlord can and will face legal consequences.
Who Has to Follow This Law?
This act is meant for more than just landlords and homeowners who are selling. Managers, people in sales, real estate brokers, and other related positions must abide by these rules as well. Property builders, mortgage lenders, and appraisers are also held accountable under the Illinois Human Rights Act. If anyone in any of these positions displays discriminatory behavior towards you, you are protected under the law and cannot be denied a place to live or work due to your personal circumstances.
Which Property Types Are Covered Under This Act?
According to the Illinois Human Rights Act, homes, condos, apartments, mobile home properties, plots of land, and other residential properties are protected under the fair housing laws. The law also includes protection for any transactions that have to do with commercial properties. Commercial properties are ones that are meant to bring a profit, an investment property that is rented out by its owner for instance.
Which Activities Are Against the Law?
Some illegal activities include a seller opting not to move forward with a transaction or changing the terms of a contract for unfair reasons. Sellers also should not interfere with the process of any inspection on the property or lie about its availability on the market to certain buyers. If a seller happens to state either verbally or via text that they intend to discriminate, this is against the law. Lenders also may not refuse a buyer a mortgage due to any of the aforementioned factors.
What If I Have Children?
Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, property owners cannot refuse to sell or rent to people with minor children. They also cannot prohibit minor children from living in the dwelling via a clause in the contract. Owners may not discriminate against women who are pregnant or who intend to foster or adopt children. They also may not place a limit on the number of minor children that are allowed to reside in the home.
What If I Have a Disability?
If you have a disability, you are also protected under this act. There may be no refusal to rent to someone due to any physical or mental disability. Landlords cannot prohibit service animals from living on their property nor can they charge tenants a fee for owning one. Property owners must not stand in the way of a person making reasonable accommodations for their disability. They also must adjust their rules and practices to consider those with disabilities and their families who are residing on their property. Landlords are expected to take into account the needs of those who might require additional assistance.
I Am Being Discriminated Against
If you are a victim of discrimination you may press charges against the property owner as long as you do so within a year of the interaction. The quicker you file your suit, the better it will be for you. Ways to file include, over the phone, face-to-face, or by putting your complaint in writing. In order to file face-to-face, you will need to provide your identification at the time of filing and also undergo a security screening. You may not file on Fridays or holidays. If you wish to file via post, you need to fill out a Housing Complainant Information Sheet, also known as a CIS. You can also fax this document if you wish to do so. For any questions or concerns regarding the Illinois Human Rights Act, help is available via phone call (312-814-6229) or you can email the Fair Housing Unit at IDHR.FairHousing@illinois.gov. The Illinois Human Rights Act is in place to ensure that everyone, regardless of their situation or background is able to have access to housing for them and their families. If a landlord or property owner is found to be guilty of discrimination, charges may be filed against them. If you feel like you are being discriminated against, reach out to your Fair Housing Unit for information and guidance on next steps.