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Appeals court hears fair housing case

The Fair Housing Act provides many protections to Michigan residents. However, the act may not necessarily provide certain protections for members of the LGBT community. On Feb. 6, the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals listened to arguments in a case involving a 70-year-old woman who alleges that she was harassed due to her sexual orientation. The woman claims that Niles' Glen Saint Andrew Living Community in Illinois did nothing to protect her.

In addition to physical harassment, she alleges that she was the target of slurs and was spit on. The case was originally dismissed at a lower court level and 7th Circuit justices were divided as to whether the law required administrators to police tenant behavior. While one judge was skeptical that the law could be stretched that far, another believed that it could.

The Fair Housing Act generally requires landlords and homeowners to provide an equal opportunity for everybody to rent or own property. In most cases, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to an individual based on skin color, gender or disability. Furthermore, it may be illegal to refuse to rent to someone because that person has children. Homeowners must generally be willing to show a property or sell it to anyone who makes a serious offer to purchase it.

If an individual has a disability, reasonable accommodations must usually be made to work around them. Those who feel as if their rights have been violated may wish to talk with an attorney. Legal counsel could help a client take action against those who refuse to rent or sell property based on a protected attribute. If successful, a victim could obtain compensation either through a settlement or through a formal trial.

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