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Fair Housing

About Us

The Antidiscrimination and Labor Division (UALD) Fair Housing unit administers and enforces the Utah Fair Housing Act, Utah Code Ann. §​57-21-101 et seq., which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, source of income, familial status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Act specifically prohibits discrimination against anyone who wants to rent or purchase real property (houses, condos apartments, etc.) based on the listed categories. Additionally, based on a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, anyone who files a housing discrimination complaint with our office is automatically filing with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This means we are a dual-filing office.

What You Need To Know

Is what I am complaining about illegal discrimination or just unfair treatment?

A general definition of housing discrimination is when a landlord refuses to rent or decides to terminate a tenancy or treats one tenant/home buyer differently than another because of that tenant’s race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, source of income, familial status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

On the other hand, many landlords may fail or refuse to meet your requests for repairs, be unresponsive to small problems and generally treat their tenants badly and it may or may not be illegal. The UALD can only take complaints of illegal housing discrimination. UALD advises persons who have been treated unfairly, but in a non-discriminatory manner, to seek other possible solutions. You may want to consult an attorney.

Is my housing unit covered by the Fair Housing Laws?

Generally, UALD can only enforce laws that prohibit housing discrimination by:

  • Landlords and owners of four or more housing units
  • Mortgage lenders
  • Insurance agencies
  • Realtors and management agencies
  • State and local governments, including housing authorities

How long do I have to file a charge?

In most situations, a complaint must be filed within 365 days of the date of the discrimination. UALD will investigate claims that are filed within 180 days of the discrimination. If the complaint is made between 181 days and 365 days, the UALD will process your paperwork and then send your case to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

It is not necessary to file a complaint with this Division in order to preserve your right to file a private lawsuit at a later date. The Fair Housing Laws allow you to take your complaint directly to court within two years of the discriminatory act.

What happens after submitting your Intake Questionnaire (IQ) to us?

Once the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form is received by the UALD, an Intake Officer will review the form and prepare a Complaint based on the information provided in the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form.

The Complaint will then be sent to you for review.  If the Complaint meets with your approval you will sign and verify the Complaint and return it to UALD.  Please note that UALD cannot take any action with respect to your claim of housing discrimination until the signed and verified complaint is received by UALD.  The signed verified complaint is considered by the Division to be the request for agency action, not the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form. Once the signed Complaint is received by the Division, a copy will be forwarded to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for dual-filing under federal law.

Please note that you cannot file the same claim with both the Division and HUD.

Within 10 days or less, both you and your housing provider (or “Respondent”) will receive a copy of the complaint by mail. You will also be given a date for a Resolutions Conference. The housing provider will also be requested to provide a response to your Housing Discrimination Complaint, and you will be asked to provide a rebuttal to that response.

What to expect when filing with us

The Initial Intake Interview

Download an Intake Questionnaire (IQ) by clicking the link below.

Fill out the IQ completely and return it to UALD. The more information
you provide, the easier it will be for UALD to create a charge.

Provide copies of any relevant documentation (keep your originals) that you believe supports your claim.

Examples of relevant documentation:

  • Lease agreements
  • Requests for repairs
  • Notices to vacate
  • Eviction notices
  • Documents supporting your request for a reasonable accommodation for a disability (such as your requests to keep a comfort animal, etc.)
  • Medical records documenting your disability or limitations may all be relevant to your charge.
  • Witnesses - names of witnesses, address/phone numbers, and a brief description of the information they may be able to provide are also of assistance

Your information will be reviewed by a Housing Intake Specialist to make sure that your complaint meets the requirements for filing with our office. You will be contacted if we need more information from you.

Filing the charge​

Based on the information you provide, the Housing Intake Specialist will create a formal Housing Discrimination Complaint form for your review.

You must review the Complaint carefully and contact the Intake Officer if there are any corrections. DO NOT MARK THE COMPLAINT FORM.

The Housing Discrimination Complaint Form must be signed by you before a Notary. Notaries can be found in a bank or a library. The Division provides notary services free of charge, but you must be physically present with proof of your identity such as a driver’s license or state-issued identification card.

Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary opportunity to mediate your Charge of Discrimination. A mediator provided by UALD will facilitate communication between the parties who are in disagreement, and see if the differences can be resolved before an investigation. The mediation is NOT a hearing on the facts of the case, and the Mediator will NOT issue a decision on the merits of your case.

Investigation

If the mediation is not successful in settling your case, it will be assigned to an investigator.

The investigator will conduct any fact-finding that is necessary to make a decision about your case.

This may include:

  • Requesting additional information from you
  • Interviewing you
  • Interviewing the housing provider
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Doing an on-site inspection of the housing unit or complex
  • Requesting documents (including lease agreements, repair logs, organizational charts, etc.) from the housing provider
  • Requesting documents (including medical records, etc.) from you.

Appealing the Decision

If you or Respondent disagree with UALD decision regarding your complaint of housing discrimination you can request seek a de novo review of that decision.  That appeal will proceed before the Labor Commission’s Adjudication Division; however, either your or Respondent may elect for the appeal to proceed in Utah District Court rather than the Adjudication Division.

You also may pursue a private civil action in State or Federal District Court. You have up to two years after the discriminatory act to file in Court.

Understanding Mediation

The mediator’s role

An experienced Mediator will create opportunities where dialogue and mutual respect may lead to a resolution of the dispute, before UALD proceeds with its investigation.

  • The Mediator’s role is to work with both parties in the dispute by encouraging and directing conversation aimed at resolution.
  • The Mediator does not act as an advocates for either party, nor do they render a decision about the merits of the dispute.
  • The Mediators does not keep any record of the proceedings and if the case moves into investigation they do not take any part in subsequent division proceedings.

How mediation works​

  • Either party may decline to attend the mediation, or may leave the mediation at any time. However, all parties are encouraged to make good faith attempts to try to resolve their differences.
  • UALD requests that both parties bring all information that may support their positions. Witnesses may be used and affidavits (written notarized witness statements) can also be presented.
  • Agreements made during the Conference are legal and binding after the UALD Director has signed the agreement. If the mediation is successful, the case will be closed.
  • If the parties cannot resolve their issues during the mediation, the case is assigned to an Investigator for further processing.

Early resolution advantages

The mediation is NOT a hearing on the facts of the case, and the Mediator will NOT issue a decision on the merits of your case.

Early resolution of the charge has many advantages, some of which include:

  • Minimizing the time, energy and expense which is often required to address a complaint of discrimination.
  • To decide how a dispute will be resolved without a third party imposing a resolution.
  • Allowing the charge to be quickly resolved without having to wait months, and in some cases, years.

Outcomes of mediation

If the parties are able to reach a settlement, the Division will prepare a Negotiated Settlement Agreement and the case will be closed.

Key points regarding an agreement:

  • An early resolution is not an admission by the Respondent of any violation of the law;
  • The Charging Party agrees not to pursue the case any further.

If the parties fail to reach a resolution the case will be assigned for investigation.

How to appeal

If you or Respondent disagree with the decision by UALD with regards to your complaint of housing discrimination, both parties have the ability to seek a de novo review (appeal) of UALD’s decision.  This is an appeal where the Administrative Law Judge or the Court will allow the parties to present all of the evidence “new” or without consideration of the Division’s findings.

To file an appeal you must submit your request in writing. This request must be in writing and received within 30 days of the date of UALD’s decision and sent to the Division Director at:

Utah Labor Commission
Antidiscrimination and Labor Division
160 East 300 South, Third Floor
P O Box 146630
Salt Lake City UT 84114-6630
Fax: (801) 530-7609.

Once a timely appeal is requested, the appeal will proceed before The Labor Commission’s Adjudication Division. However, after an appeal is requested, all parties are provided the option of electing for the appeal to proceed in district court.  If either party elects to proceed in district court, the appeal will proceed there.

In the event that UALD finds that a discriminatory housing practice occurred and Respondent appeals that decision, the Labor Commission will provide legal representation to you for purposes of that appeal.  To the extent that you disagree with UALD’s decision and you appeal that decision, the Labor Commission will not provid legal representation to you.

If the Director does not receive a timely request for review, the Determination becomes the final order of the Labor Commission and is not subject to further agency action or direct judicial review.

Your Options

At any time in the UALD process, both you and the housing provider may offer to try to mediate or settle the case at any time in the process. A mediator or investigator can assist with settlement discussions.

You may withdraw your Complaint with the Division and file your case in State or Federal District Court.

Either party can obtain legal counsel or other representation at any time. The Division must have written notice of representation before it will communicate with your representative.

Both you and the housing provider are obligated to keep the Division informed of a current address and phone number. The Division may close your case if you cannot be located.

The parties are also required to cooperate fully with the process. The Division may close your case if you do not cooperate with the investigation.

If you need reasonable accommodations, interpreters, or assistive devices due to a disability you need to contact UALD three days in advance to your appointment or hearing.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is illegal for a housing provider to retaliate against a tenant because he or she has opposed any type of discriminatory treatment or because he or she has filed charges, testified, assisted or participated in any proceeding, investigation or hearing alleging discriminatory treatment protected by law.

  • This protection applies not only to the complaining tenant, but to all other witnesses who might participate in the investigatory process.
  • This protection applies regardless of the validity of the complaining tenant’s charge.

No. Any rules which limit the rights of families with children under the age of 18 to reside together violate the Utah Fair Housing Act, Utah Code Ann. §57-21-101 et seq. and are not enforceable. Due to the Fair Housing Act and its amendments, it is unlawful to enforce any rules that discriminate on the basis of familial status. This applies to individuals undergoing adoption procedures, foster families and single parents with children.

No. A property owner cannot restrict a family with children under the age of 18 from renting apartments based upon the location of that unit. Individuals should be given an equal opportunity to choose available housing regardless of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, source of income, familial status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Neither HUD nor the Division pre-certify housing as exempt under the Housing for Older Persons exemption. New construction projects may elect this designation and must fulfill the occupancy requirements. Existing complexes must meet all of the standards before they can be so designated.

No. Under the Utah Fair Housing Act, a companion animal is not considered a pet and therefore is not covered by typical rules that allow landlords to ask for pet deposits. Additionally, even in situations where the apartment complex or condo unit does not normally allow tenants to have pets, a companion animal must be allowed to remain with the qualified person with a disability as a required accommodation.

Yes, so long as the criteria is applied consistently to all applicants regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, source of income, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Assistance animals are not pets. A person with a disability uses an assistance animal as an auxiliary aid – similar to the use of a cane, crutches or wheelchair. Fair housing laws require that assistance animals be permitted despite “no pet” rules.

Assistance animals may also be known as companion animals, therapy animals, comfort animals, emotional support animals, or service animals.

If a staff member or another resident has a fear of or a minor allergy to dogs or other animals, this is not a disability, so they have no right to an accommodation.

Resident parking for leased housing/apartments – If parking is provided for residents, it is a reasonable accommodation to provide reserved accessible spaces for disabled residents. Use the standard accommodations process for accessible parking requests. If a resident has a state disabled parking permit, this is generally sufficient proof of the need for a reserved accessible parking space.

 

Many people who need an accessible parking space don’t need an extra-wide space with an access aisle – they often need only a regular-size parking space nearest to their front door or on the most accessible route to the front door. Discuss specific parking needs with the resident.

Even if parking spaces are not normally assigned, provide a reserved parking space to a resident with a disability.

 

Post a sign at the head of the parking space saying the spot is reserved, so that other people do not park there.

 

Strictly enforce a resident’s reserved accessible parking space, and be prompt in responding to complaints when others park there. Let vendors know these spaces are off limits.

 

Guest parking for leased housing/apartments – If parking is provided near the rental office or for guests, some of those spaces must be accessible.

 

Locate at least one accessible guest parking space near an on-site rental office, with an accessible route from the parking to the office.

 

Guest parking is subject to ADA Title III rules, which require that at least 2% of all guest spaces in each lot meet access requirements and be designated with appropriate signage. These spaces must be at least 96” wide and must have an adjacent access aisle at least 60” wide. An access aisle can be shared between two accessible parking spaces. At least one of these spaces must be van accessible, with a 96” access aisle.

 

Strictly enforce accessible guest parking spaces, and be prompt in responding to complaints when others park there. Let vendors know these spaces are off limits.

 

HOA’s – Sometimes a governing board or owners group has only limited control over parking spaces. Boards should assist within their means to the person seeking a parking accommodation. If another resident owns the desired space, the two owners can negotiate a swap. However, owners are not required to give up or swap a parking spot that has been deeded to them.

The duty to accommodate arises when the housing provider has knowledge that a disability exists and that an accommodation or modification is required for the disabled person to use and enjoy the housing. Here are key points:

  • The applicant or resident must make a request for an accommodation or modification unless the disability and need for accommodation are obvious.
  • The request does not need to mention fair housing or use the words “reasonable accommodation” or “reasonable modification.”
  • The request should describe the accommodation or modification, and explain the disability-related need for the requested action. [Example: A resident who becomes disabled may request a transfer to a ground floor apartment because climbing the stairs has become difficult.]
  • The request does not need to be in writing. Although management may use a specific form, an accommodation or modification cannot be refused just because the person requesting it did not use the form. It is important for management to document these requests.
  • Reasonable accommodations or modifications can be requested whenever they are needed. A person may make requests when applying for housing, when entering into a rental agreement, during tenancy, and even during an eviction process.
  • An individual with a disability may make multiple requests for accommodations, as the need arises.

Housing providers should evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis, in a timely and professional manner, and document interactions with the resident. A housing provider has an obligation to provide prompt responses to reasonable accommodation requests. An undue delay in responding to a request may be considered to be a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation.

An accommodation or modification is reasonable if:

  • It is related to the resident’s disability needs;
  • Is not an undue administrative and financial burden for the housing provider;
  • Does not fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s operations;
  • It is not a direct threat.

 

Undue burden – The request must not impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider. The determination of undue financial and administrative burden must be made on a case-by-case basis and involves involving various factors, such as the cost of the requested accommodation, the financial resources of the provider, the benefits that the accommodation would provide to the requester, and the availability of alternative accommodations that would effectively meet the requester’s disability-related needs. [Example: An applicant who uses a walker prefers a third-story rental in an older walk-up building – the housing provider does not have to install an elevator if such a modification is cost-prohibitive.]

Fundamental alteration – The requested accommodation or modification must not require the housing provider to make a fundamental alteration in the essential nature of the provider’s operations. [Example: A resident with a disability cannot do his own housekeeping and the housing provider does not supply housekeeping for residents. A request for such services is not reasonable.]

Refusing a request – When a housing provider refuses a requested accommodation because it is not reasonable, the provider should discuss with the requester whether an alternative accommodation would effectively address the person’s disability-related needs. If an alternative accommodation would effectively meet the person’s needs and is reasonable, the provider must grant it. A failure to reach an agreement on an accommodation request is in effect a decision by the housing provider not to grant the requested accommodation. Someone who was denied an accommodation may file a fair housing complaint to challenge that decision.

 

Direct threat – Fair housing laws do not require a housing provider to provide an accommodation or modification for a person with a disability whose tenancy constitutes a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others, unless the threat can be eliminated or significantly reduced by a reasonable accommodation or modification.

 

To establish direct threat, a housing provider needs recent, objective evidence of behavior that puts others at risk of harm. Even where there is direct threat or prior substantial property damage, a housing provider may still have a duty to accommodate during the eviction process if there is information that the threat has subsided. The housing provider has a duty to consider the reasonable accommodation before taking action.

It is illegal for a housing provider to retaliate against a tenant because he or she has opposed any type of discriminatory treatment or because he or she has filed charges, testified, assisted or participated in any proceeding, investigation or hearing alleging discriminatory treatment protected by law.

  • This protection applies not only to the complaining tenant, but to all other witnesses who might participate in the investigatory process.

The Utah Fair Housing Act does not limit the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a dwelling. Limitations on the number of children under 18 allowed in a dwelling are in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Current federal fair housing regulations presume that an occupancy standard is acceptable if it is no more restrictive than two persons per bedroom. When assessing the “reasonable” standard, elements that need to be considered are the size of the room, fire and health codes and any other applicable city regulations. For questions and clarification, contact the Fair Housing Unit of the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division of the Utah Labor Commission.

No. A property owner/manager cannot set a higher deposit for families with children under the age of 18. Any required deposits must be consistent with what would be imposed if the apartment were rented to persons without children under the age of 18.

No. Unless a complex has qualified as Housing for Older Persons, this statement would clearly indicate a preference for families without children. Statements that indicate a discriminatory limitation or preference based upon a person’s race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, source of income, familial status, sexual orientation, or gender identity are in violation of the Utah Fair Housing Act. In addition to liability for the person who places the ad, the newspaper or other publication may also be held liable for placing the discriminatory advertisement.

No. A property owner must give an individual an opportunity to rent an available unit regardless of that person’s disability. A person should be able to seek housing and choose where they want to live without restrictions based upon that individual’s race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, source of income, familial status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Yes. A property owner/manager may legitimately ask an applicant for verification of credit history, so long as this criterion is applied to all applicants regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, source of income, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Good business practices, including record keeping and consistency in application of qualification criteria, community rules, and regulations are a good start to keeping people from filing complaints. Education, awareness, and commitment to abiding by the law are also an essential element of prevention. The purpose of the Fair Housing Act is to provide everyone an equal opportunity to obtain housing. The Fair Housing Laws require that all persons have a right to seek housing based upon their qualifications without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, source of income, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

When an applicant or resident who has a disability requests to live with an assistance animal, follow the usual accommodation process. It is a reasonable accommodation to allow residents to live with assistance animals that meet their disability-related needs.

 

Owners of assistance animals should not be charged pet deposits or fees. General cleaning or damage deposits can be charged, if all residents are similarly charged. A resident with an assistance animal is liable for any damage the animal causes.

 

While the most common assistance animals are dogs, they may be other species, such as cats, monkeys, birds or other animals.

 

Assistance animals may be any breed, size or weight. Do not apply pet size or weight limitations to assistance animals.

 

Assistance animals need no special licenses or visible identification. Some owners of assistance animals choose to put special collars or harnesses on their animals. If city or county laws require pet licenses for dogs and cats, rental management can require assistance dogs or cats to be licensed. In some cases, such licenses are free or discounted for assistance animals. [Note: If management does not require licenses for all pet dogs and cats, then licenses cannot be required for dogs or cats that are assistance animals.]

 

Assistance animals need no “certification”. There are no state or national standards for certifying assistance animals, and no government agencies provide certification.

 

A person may train his or her own assistance animal.

 

Because assistance animals provide different types of assistance, in some cases a person with a disability may require more than one assistance animal.

 

The assistance animal’s owner is responsible for the animal’s care, should observe leash laws, properly dispose of animal waste, and ensure the animal behaves around others and does not break tenancy rules (such as noise rules). To the extent that the animal’s owner does not keep their animal under control, fails to clean up after them, or breaks other tenancy rules, the housing provider/HOA board may impose fines on them, so long as they would impose similar fines for similar violations by non-disabled tenants. [For example, do not impose a noise violation fine for a barking dog if you would not also impose a noise violation fine for a loud party.]

Yes. Whether to request documentation and what documentation to request depends on how obvious the person’s disability is and how obvious the connection is between the disability and the requested assistance animal.

 

If the person’s disability is obvious, or otherwise known, and the need for the accommodation is also clear. A housing provider may not request information about the person’s disability or the need for the accommodation. [Example: An obviously blind applicant asks to keep a service animal – no verification of the disability or the need is necessary.]

 

If the disability is known, but the need for the accommodation is not readily apparent or known, a housing provider may request only information necessary to evaluate the disability-related need for the accommodation. [Example: Management knows a resident has seizures. The resident wants to get an assistance dog – request that he document the disability-related need for the dog.]

 

If neither the disability nor the need is clear, a housing provider may ask for proof of both. [Example: Someone with no obvious disability asks for an assistance cat to help cope with their clinical depression – a housing provider may request that he document both that he has a disability and his disability-related need for the cat.]

 

HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice have indicated that the documentation that can be requested is a letter of verification from a doctor or other health care provider who, in their professional capacity, has knowledge about the person’s disability and the need for reasonable accommodation. Do not ask for specific information about the disability or for medical records.

Fair housing laws require similar treatment for all applicants and residents. However, these laws also require reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications for people with disabilities.

 

A reasonable accommodation is a change made to a policy, program or service that allows a person with a disability to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use areas. Examples include:

  • providing rental forms in large print
  • providing a reserved accessible parking space near a resident’s rental
  • allowing a resident to have an assistance animal in a “no pets” building
  • Permitting a resident who has developed mobility limitations to move to the ground floor.

 

A reasonable modification is a physical change made to a resident’s living space or to the common areas of a community, which is necessary to enable a resident with a disability to have full enjoyment of the housing. Examples include:

  • adding bathroom grab bars
  • lowering closet rods
  • installation of a ramp

Whether to request documentation and what documentation to request depends on how obvious the person’s disability is and whether there is a connection between the disability and the requested accommodation or modification.

  • If the person’s disability is obvious, or otherwise known, and the need for the accommodation is also clear, do not request information about the person’s disability or the need for the accommodation. [Example: An obviously seeing impaired applicant asks for rental documents in large print – no verification of the disability or the need is necessary.]
  • If the disability is known, but the need for the accommodation is not readily apparent or known, request only information necessary to evaluate the disability-related need for the accommodation. [Example: Management knows a resident has seizures. The resident wants to get an assistance dog – management may only request that he document the disability-related need for the dog.]
  • If neither the disability nor the need is clear, a housing provider may ask for proof of both. [Example: Someone with no obvious disability asks for an accessible parking space – request that he document both that he has a disability and his disability-related need for the parking.]

 

HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice have indicated that the documentation that can be requested is a letter of verification from a medical professional, or other qualified third party who, in their professional capacity, has knowledge about the person’s disability and the need for reasonable accommodation. Do not ask for specific information about the disability or for medical records!

Yes, but only where fitness equipment may not be safe for small children. When setting age limits, it is helpful to look at industry standards, because there are no state or federal laws that state the age of people who can safely use weight training equipment. Fitness centers managed by local governments and private businesses allow some children under age 18 to use weight training equipment. Many fitness centers permit children aged 15-17 to use fitness equipment without adult supervision, some require adult supervision for 13-15 year old children, and few allow anyone under 13 to use their facilities. Equipment manufacturers’ height and weight recommendations may also provide reasonable guidance. If the community’s fitness room rules are in the range of these age guidelines, fair housing laws will likely consider them reasonable.


Remember, there is a difference between rules for equipment use and rules for who can enter the room. Children should be permitted to accompany their parents or a responsible adult, so long as they don’t touch the equipment or cause disturbances for others. [Examples: A dad works out while his 5 year old sits quietly to the side with a coloring book. A mom works out while her baby sleeps in a carrier nearby.]