Fair Housing

The real estate profession has become increasingly based in legalities. While a handshake can signify an agreement, the contract is the foundation of the real estate transaction today.

With the increased focus on legal issues, Nevada REALTORS® provides members services in the legal arena. Various articles on current and hot legal topics are provided through the weekly Nevada REALTORS® eNews. In addition, the Legal Information Line is available to members.

There are many real estate related questions that arise often. These FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) by topic are provided to assist you in finding quick answers.

Fair Housing

Q:  What are the protected classes under the Federal fair housing law?

A:  There are seven.  They are race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin.

Q:  Does the State of Nevada recognize more protected classes?

A:  Yes, there are eight protected classes listed the Nevada statutes.  They are race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin and ancestry.

Q:  When a prospect inquires about the racial makeup of a neighborhood or school, what should I tell him/her?

A:  You should say something similar to, “The Fair Housing Act prohibits me from providing that kind of information. I recommend you contact the school district, municipal government, or the local library.”

Q:  A disabled prospect wants to rent a house I have for rent, she has a companion dog.  It is a Rottweiler.  My insurance company says it will cancel my homeowner’s insurance if I allow a Rottweiler to live there.  Am I in violation of the Fair Housing Act if I deny the tenant because of the Rottweiler?

A:  The Federal Fair Housing Act requires that landlords make reasonable accommodations for disabled tenants.  The words are “reasonable accommodations”.  The Fair Housing Act may consider it unreasonable to accommodate the tenant if the landlord’s insurance company would cancel his insurance if a Rottweiler was living on the premises.

Q:  I represent a buyer.  The buyer was refused a loan by the lender she chose.  The seller refuses to release the earnest money deposit held in escrow to her.  What can she do?
A:  There are only two ways that an escrow company is authorized to release the money held in escrow:  by agreement and signatures of the parties, or by court order.  The parties have agreed to mediation in their contract.  One party must begin the mediation process by getting a mediation application from the local REALTORS® Association where the property is located.  If the parties can settle the matter in mediation, then the mediator prepares an agreement which they both sign and it is presented to the escrow company.  If the parties cannot reach an agreement in mediation, then either party can initiate a civil law suit in the local court system.  If the amount in question is $5000 or less, the parties may litigate in small claims court.  If it is $7000 or less they may litigate in justice court.  If the claim is greater than $7000, the parties must litigate in district court.