Frequently Asked Questions

What Housing Is Covered?

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What Is Prohibited In the Sale and Rental of Housing?

No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap.

Can a disabled tenant ask for modifications to a dwelling?

Yes, as long as the modification is reasonable, the changes to your dwelling or common use areas can be done, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)

Can a landlord refuse to rent to my family because I have children under the age of 10?

Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children fewer than 18 live with: A parent, a person who has legal custody of the child or children or the designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian's written permission.

Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.

If I am not from the United States, does the federal Fair Housing Act protect me?

Yes, whether you are a U.S. citizen, registered alien (a “green card” holder), or an undocumented resident of the U.S., you are protected by the federal Fair Housing Act

What is an example of discriminatory lending?

A lender commits discriminatory lending practices when he or she imposes different terms or conditions on a mortgage loan, such as different rates, points, or fees on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap

Can the tenant do anything if the landlord refuses to make repairs?

Yes. The tenant has a number of options. The tenant might:

  • Call to the Charleston Trident Urban League’s Fair Housing Hotline 843-766-6427
  • Take the landlord to court

If the tenant moves out before the expiration of the lease, is the lease terminated?

No. The lease does not terminate just because the tenant moves out. The lease is a contract in which the tenant promises to pay the landlord for the right to possess the premises whether the tenant actually lives there or not.

Can a landlord ask a tenant to move out when a lease expires?

Yes. A landlord may choose to terminate a tenancy at the end of a lease. If a landlord would like to end a lease when its term expires, the landlord should give notice to the tenant even though the lease already specifies the termination date. 30-60 days is usually a sufficient notice for a tenant to search for a new rental.

How much notice does a tenant have to give to terminate a month-to-month rental agreement?

A tenant must provide a landlord with a written 30-day notice of the intent to terminate the tenancy. In most cases, a tenant may give notice of termination at any time during the month. If the rental agreement specifies that a tenant may only give notice on a certain day of each month, however, then the tenant must wait until that day to give notice.

If I don’t pay the rent, what can the landlord do?

He must send you a written demand giving you five days to pay the overdue rent. If the rent is not paid within these five days, the landlord can end your lease and go to the magistrate to evict you.

Your landlord does not have to give you a written demand for the overdue rent if your lease says in big print that no such notice will be given.

If you have a written rental agreement, your landlord only has to give you a written notice for the overdue rent once during the period.

If I have not paid my rent, can the landlord take any of my property?

Only if the landlord goes to the magistrate and has you served with a distress warrant allowing her to hold your property.

Some property cannot be taken. If you are served with a distress warrant, you should see a lawyer immediately.


Charleston Trident Urban League

1064 Gardner Rd #307

Charleston, SC 29407

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