Fair Housing is Your Right
You cannot be denied housing Montana because of:
- race or color
- national origin
- religion or creed
- marital status
- familial status (children under 18 living in the household)
- disability (physical or mental)
What Housing is Covered?
Montana laws and federal fair housing laws cover most housing. The law exempts owner-occupied sleeping rooms in a private residence provided the owner rents no more than 3 rooms within the residence.
The provision in the law against discrimination because of age and familial status do not extend to owner-occupied duplexes and housing for older persons.
What is Prohibited?
In Advertising - Montana laws and federal fair housing laws prohibit anyone from printing, or publishing any advertisement or statement that indicates a limitation or preference in the area of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, sex, marital status, familial status or disability.
Retaliation - It is illegal for anyone to retaliate against an individual who has filed a housing complaint, or participated in an investigation of a housing complaint.
In the Sale and Rental of Housing - Housing providers may not take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, sex, marital status, familial status or disability:
- refuse to rent or sell housing;
- set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a housing accommodation;
- ask a person's race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, sex, marital status, familial status or disability;
- represent that housing is not available for inspection, sale or rental;
- provide different housing services or facilities;
- for profit, persuade owners to sell or rent;
- for profit, deny buyers or renters entry into a neighborhood;
- print or publish notices, statements or advertisements indicating a preference;
- deny reasonable accommodations, at their expense, to persons with disabilities, in sales, rental and terms and conditions;
- it is also unlawful for anyone to aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing of an act forbidden under the Montana housing law.
In Mortgage Lending - Lenders may not take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, sex, marital status, familial status or disability:
- refuse to make a mortgage loan;
- fail to provide information regarding loans;
- impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees;
- discriminate in appraising property;
- refuse to purchase a loan;
- set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.
What Housing Providers Can Do to Prevent Housing Discrimination
- Include a policy statement of non-discriminatory treatment in all rental agreements, listing agreements and buy-sell agreements;
- Develop a non-discrimination policy that provides a grievance procedure and clearly states if discrimination is found, appropriate corrective action will be taken;
- Provide fair housing policies to potential renters, buyers and sellers;
- Display a fair housing poster;
- Include an equal housing opportunity logotype or slogan in all advertising and exterior signs;
- Attend a fair housing training sponsored by a fair housing group or the Human Rights Bureau.
What Renters and Buyers Can Do
- Report incidents of discrimination to the salesperson or manager;
- If complaints are not resolved, report the discrimination to the broker or owner;
- Contact the Human Rights Bureau
Housing for Older Persons
Effective October 1, 1997, housing for older persons is exempt from familial status and age provisions in Montana fair housing law if the units:
- are occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older; or
- house at least one person who is 55 or older in 80% of the occupied units and owners publish and adhere to written policies and procedures that demonstrate the housing is intended and operated for persons 55 or older.
Rights of Persons With Disabilities
- have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
- have a record of such impairment; or
- be regarded as having such an impairment.
- Make reasonable modifications to housing units, at the expense of the renter, to enable the renter with a disability to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the housing provider may permit changes only if the property can be restored to its original condition when the renter moves);
- Make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies or services to allow persons with disabilities equal opportunity to use and enjoy the housing unit and property.
Responsibilities of Renters and Buyers
- Make requests for accommodations to owners and managers and verify their needs.
Design and Construction for Building Ready for First Occupancy
Covered multi-family housing having four or more units, if the building has an elevator, and ground floor units in a building having four or more dwelling units must have:
- An accessible building entrance on an accessible route;
- Accessible and usable public and common use areas;
- Doors and hallways wide enough for wheelchairs;
- Accessible route into and through the units;
- Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations;
- Reinforced walls for grab bars, and;
- Space in kitchens and bathrooms in which a person in a wheelchair can maneuver.