Bias against Section 8 tenants is legal
Question: I have a Section 8 voucher, but most rental ads in the newspaper say "no Section 8." Is that illegal discrimination?
Answer: According to Cynthia Thomas, Legal Aid's fair housing project manager, it is not illegal discrimination. State and federal fair housing laws do not cover people who use Section 8 vouchers, so -- generally -- landlords can reject rental applicants who use Section 8 vouchers.
Q: I am looking for an apartment to rent. Since my English is not very good, my daughter translates for me. One landlord told my daughter that I couldn't live there because I didn't speak much English. Is that legal?
A: From Cynthia: No. Refusing to rent to someone solely because they do not speak English, or because they have limited English language, might be discrimination based on national origin.
Q: The pool rules at my apartment say, "Children under 14 years of age must be supervised by an adult." Is this discriminating against kids?
A: From Cynthia: No. Apartment amenities, like a swimming pool, can have reasonable safety rules. On the other hand, if the complex completely bans children from using these amenities or restricts children to using the pool at certain times, this could be a violation of fair housing laws.
Q: I looked at a house for sale in the Kahala-Diamond Head area. The owner told me that she didn't think I'd feel "comfortable" in the neighborhood because there are no other African Americans in the area. I'm not even African American. She suggested that I look near the military bases. Is that illegal?
A: From Cynthia: Yes. It is a discriminatory practice to "steer" people to look for housing in another area on the basis of race, color, national origin/ancestry, disability, religion, age, marital status, familial status, gender, HIV status or sexual orientation.
April is National Fair Housing Month. If you have any questions about your fair housing rights or feel that your fair housing rights have been violated, please call the Fair Housing Enforcement Program at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. Oahu: 527-8024. Neighbor Islands: (866) 527-3247.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.