The following op-ed was written by Mike Inman, president of Kentucky REALTORS®.
To be a REALTOR® means being held to a higher standard and conducting business in accordance with the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics. At the core of these ethics is support for equal opportunity in housing. April is Fair Housing Month and though the month brings renewed awareness to housing opportunity, Kentucky REALTORS® takes pride in its continued work 365 days a year to make fair housing integral to the real estate profession.
In 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Fair Housing Act, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex. In 1988 The Act was amended prohibiting discrimination based on familial status and disability. In 2021 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a memorandum barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
While the Fair Housing Act and subsequent laws have helped to advance housing opportunity for some in recent years, a closer look at the law’s impact today reveals that the Fair Housing Act is not perfect and does not protect all homebuyers and renters from discrimination.
“Disparities in housing opportunities exist today, in part, because the housing industry once acquiesced in the discrimination of certain groups”, said Kentucky REALTORS® Treasurer Elect, Barb Curtis. “Today, REALTORS® operate under a promise to protect everyone and our organization actively works to make sure our members are equipped to promote fair housing.”
This month, more than 12,000 Kentucky REALTORS® members across the Commonwealth are dedicating time for training that exposes them to real-life scenarios showcasing barriers many in our communities face when buying or renting a home. For example, members of the LGBTQ+ community remain unprotected by federal law for housing discrimination. In Kentucky, only 22 communities have passed a local Fairness Ordinance, which outlaws LGBTQ+ discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. Statistics show same-sex couples experience higher levels of discrimination when responding to advertised housing, and those numbers increase even more for transgender people.
Kentucky REALTORS® encourages everyone to become familiar with the rights and responsibilities they have under the law. Discrimination may not always present in obvious ways, and it is important to know when to seek help.
“We want to do the best thing for our communities and identifying our biases and learning to overcome them is the right thing to do for all our people,” said Curtis.
The National Association of REALTORS® has outlined the rights and responsibilities of home sellers and home buyers. Click the link to learn more. If you suspect discrimination contact your local board of REALTORS® or file a complaint with HUD at www.hud.gov. For more information about Kentucky REALTORS®, visit www.kyrealtors.com.