Fair Housing

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Frequently Asked Questions

Fair housing means all persons have equal opportunity to be considered for rental units, property sales, housing loans, and insurance.

Q. What Are Some Examples of Housing Discrimination?

  • You found an advertisement for an apartment that sounded right for you. You called the number given and learned the apartment was still available. You scheduled an appointment and went right over. When you arrived in person you were told, "Sorry, the apartment was just rented."
  • When looking for a home to purchase, the real estate salesperson keeps showing you homes only within a particular neighborhood. The agent also makes statements such as, "We feel this area would be right for you," or "We're sure you wouldn't be happy in that neighborhood."
  • You called about an apartment. When you told the manager that it was for you and your small child, she replied, "This is a second floor apartment with a balcony. It just wouldn't be a good place for a child."
  • You applied for a mortgage to purchase a house. While you have had some financial problems in the past, you now have sufficient income and a good credit record. The bank says you don't meet their qualifications.
  • You are purchasing a home and want to buy homeowner's insurance. The agent tells you that they don't write policies in your part of town.
  • You are blind and have a guide dog, but the apartment manager won't rent to you because of a "no pets" policy.
  • You inquired about an apartment to rent and were quoted a higher rent or deposit than you know other tenants are expected to pay.

Q. What can you do if you believe you may have been discriminated against?

Contact our office to find out about filing a complaint.

Our services are neutral, confidential and free.

Q. What laws protect you from housing discrimination?

Local:
Sioux City Municipal Code Chapter 4.04 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, mental and physical disability and familial status.

State:
The Iowa Civil Rights Act (Iowa Code 216) prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, mental and physical disability and familial status.

Federal:
The federal Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits discrimination in housing because of race or color. The Civil Rights Act of 1968, Title VIII, and the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1989 prohibit discrimination in housing because of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, handicap and familial status.

Familial status, or the presence of children in the home, protects families with children under 18 years of age. Also protected are families seeking custody of a child or expecting the birth of a child. There is only a narrow exception to this part of the law: units designated as "housing for older persons."

Property owners are required by the law to allow reasonable modifications to a property (at the tenant's expense), and to make reasonable accommodations in policies in order to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities.

Q. WHAT OTHER SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE COMMISSION?

The Commission can provide speakers and programs on civil rights topics, including Fair Housing.

The Commission can conduct testing of landlords, businesses, and employers to study the nature and extent of discrimination in Sioux City, and to determine if the civil rights laws are being violated.

Q: DOES MY LANDLORD HAVE TO SUPPLY HEAT?

We refer persons experiencing such problems to

Iowa Legal Aid.

If the dwelling is in Sioux City, the city code requires that the landlord provide heat (Section 20.05.080):

  • Every landlord is responsible to provide heating equipment with the capability of providing heat to every dwelling unit such that a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit can be maintained in all habitable rooms and bathrooms throughout the heating season."

If the dwelling is not in Sioux City, the state Landlord/Tenant act requires that the landlord provide heat (Iowa Code chapter 562A.15). The landlord shall:

  • "Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord."
  • "Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat, except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection."

Iowa Legal Aid

507 7th Street, Suite 402
Sioux City, IA 51101
(712)277-8686