Housing discrimination is prohibited by both federal and Nevada law. These laws prohibit discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, familial status, sexual orientation, and gender identity in most aspects of securing housing.
What Type of Discrimination Is Prohibited?
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, and familial status (i.e. presence of children). Nevada law prohibits housing discrimination based on the same characteristics as well as on ancestry, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.
What Type of Housing Activity Is Involved?
Housing discrimination is illegal in just about every aspect of of housing. The following actions are prohibited if done based on one or more of the protected classes above:
- Refusing to sell to, rent to, or negotiate with a protected person;
- Discriminating in terms, conditions, or privileges of housing, including lease terms, security deposits, privileges of residency, purchase terms, interest rates, or insurance rates;
- Refusing to make housing available to a protected person, or not allowing for inspection, when it is available to others;
- Advertising housing by indicating a preference or limitation regarding a protected person;
- Failing to provide services or facilities in connection with housing based on a protected status;
- Discrimination by a person or business engaged in residential real estate transactions or brokerage services;
- Coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with a person who seeks to avoid housing discrimination or helps another person avoid discrimination;
- Inducing a person for profit to sell or rent housing by telling them a protected person is entering or might enter the neighborhood.
The Fair Housing Act makes an exception for religious organizations that allows them to limit or give preference to people of the same religion. The FHA also allows private clubs that are not open to the public to give preference to its members if the club owns or operates lodging for a non-commercial purpose.
Are There Specific Protections for People with Disabilities?
In addition to the protections described above, landlords must allow individuals with disabilities to make reasonable modifications to their housing if the modification is necessary and the tenant pays for it. Landlords must also make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities to be sure they have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their housing, including common spaces. Landlords may not refuse to rent to a person with a disability because he or she will live in the housing with a service animal.
Also, new multifamily housing units must be designed and constructed in a way that is accessible to people with disabilities.
What Can I Do if Someone Discriminates Against Me?
You can file a complaint with either the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (“NERC”) or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”). Whether or not you file a complaint, you can file a lawsuit in state or federal court.
Is There A Time Limitation?
Under Nevada law, you must file a lawsuit within one year of the alleged violation, and under federal law you have two years to make a claim.
What Remedies Are Available?
If a court finds a violation of the law, then it can order the following:
- An injunction or order prohibiting the offending party from discriminating further;
- Actual and punitive damages;
- Attorney’s fees and costs.