Monday, February 11, 2008

Military Status Is Now Protected Class in Ohio Fair Housing Laws

Federal fair housing prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or disability, and familial status. The Ohio Civil Rights Act added ancestry, and now with HB 372, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has recently added “military status” as a protected class.

"It is illegal, pursuant to the Ohio fair housing law, division (H) of section 4112.02 of the Revised Code, and the federal fair housing law, 42 U.S.C.A. 3601, to refuse to sell, transfer, assign, rent, lease, sublease, or finance housing accommodations, refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of housing accommodations, or otherwise deny or make unavailable housing accommodations because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status as defined in section 4112.01 of the Revised Code, ancestry, military status as defined in that section, disability as defined in that section, or national origin or to so discriminate in advertising the sale or rental of housing, in the financing of housing, or in the provision of real estate brokerage services. It is also illegal, for profit, to induce or attempt to induce a person to sell or rent a dwelling by representations regarding the entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons belonging to one of the protected classes."

So if you own residential investment property in Ohio, no matter whether it is a rental house, double, 4-family or mega-multi-unit complex, you cannot discriminate against a potential or current renter because they are in the military. Actually, most owners don't do this. But an unscrupulous few have been giving many property owners a black eye with their antics.

Word is that complaints have been rolling in from around the nation from individuals who were being denied rental housing because they are on active duty, or reports alleged that property owners were refusing to accommodate former military personnel based on their type of discharge. With Gov. Strickland's signature, House Bill 372 becomes effective March 24, 2008, and provides benefits to members of the Armed Forces, one of those being that military status is now a protected class.

This bill is long overdue, IMHO.

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