FAQs - Topsail Island Real Estate & Fair Housing

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1. Do the fair housing laws apply to all housing transactions?
Yes, except for the following limited exemptions:

The rental of a unit in a multi-family dwelling with not more than four units where the owner (or a member of the owner's family) lives in one of the units

The rental of a room or rooms in a private house where the owner (or a member of the owner's family) lives in the house

Lodging owned or operated by private clubs which give preference to their members Religious, charitable, or educational institutions or organizations which are operated, supervised, or controlled by religious institutions or organizations that give preference in real estate transactions to their members, provided the organization does not exclude members of a protected category

Single-sex dormitories


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2. What are some common unlawful acts of discrimination?
Refusing to sell, rent or negotiate - It is against the law to take any of the following actions because a person is a member of one of the protected categories:

To refuse to engage in a real estate transaction
To refuse to rent or sell housing
To discriminate in terms, conditions, or privileges for the sale or rental of housing
To refuse to receive or fail to transmit a bona fide offer to engage in a real estate transaction
To indicate that housing is not available when it actually is available
To discriminate by providing different facilities or services
To refuse to negotiate for housing


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3. What conditions are considered handicaps under the fair housing laws?

A handicapping condition exists if someone has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Some examples are: physical disability, mental illness or retardation, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cancer, heart disease, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection or AIDS, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance) and alcoholism. However, a landlord does not have to rent to anyone, including a handicapped person, who would constitute a genuine, direct threat to the health or safety of other tenants or whose tenancy would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others.


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4. Can a real estate agent decline to show property in a particular area because members of a protected category reside in that area? No. This is steering, even if the buyer requests it. The real estate agent should inform the buyer that he or she can show property based on any of the buyer's other criteria, but not the presence or absence in the area of members of a protected category.


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5. Can a real estate agent answer questions about the characteristics of a neighborhood if the questions concern one of the protected categories?


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