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Virginia Considers Adding “Lawful Income” to Unlawful Discriminatory Housing Practices

February 11, 2014 in Articles | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

Virginia Considers Adding “Lawful Income” to Unlawful Discriminatory Housing Practices

Virginia politicians are introducing potential legislation that would change the Virginia fair housing law.  SB1224 would add a category called ‘lawful source of income’ to a set of elements used in unlawful discriminatory housing practices.  It’s not yet in place, but the bill has been making its way through the avenues of the state’s legislative offices as the new year unfolds.

Effectively, this change to the law would require those evaluating housing applications to treat applicants fairly on the basis of how the applicant would pay for housing. A detailed description of ‘lawful source of income’ includes the following in a list of potential income sources:

  • public assistance
  • any type of gross income
  • Federal SSI (supplemental social security) benefits
  • child support

Professionals such as Virginia business litigation attorneys who are involved in looking at Virginia state business law will pay attention to these types of changes to what’s standard in the state’s housing industry.

Results of the Proposal

From the perspective of the tenant or applicant, this legal change would help to limit discrimination in the evaluation of housing applications where families may pay for their housing, not from wages or salaries, but from alternative sources related to either federal, state or local assistance, or other kinds of funds, for example, a legal settlement payout.

From the standpoint of a landlord or local business, the change would require more careful review of each housing application, and a more deliberate selection in terms of who is approved for a specific housing unit.

Current law already provides a lot of protection for housing applicants and restrictions on how landlords or property managers can make decisions on application approval. For example, under the Virginia Fair Housing Law, enforced by the Virginia Fair Housing Office, decision makers may not use elements like race, color, religious affiliation, gender, age or disability to make final decisions on housing. Those advertising properties cannot publish any sort of ‘preference’ or limitation when they promote an open housing unit. There are other protections for the addition or maintenance of facilities for individuals with disabilities.

All of these are practical considerations that sometimes come up in complicated housing operations, in cases where businesses or individuals have a conflict or grievance. Someone who feels that he or she is being unfairly singled out can call Virginia business litigation attorneys to ask about representation and their rights under the law.

Getting Legal Assistance

Anyone who is concerned about housing discrimination in Virginia or has questions about the Virginia Fair Housing Law can contact the offices of MartinWren, P.C. to hear from Virginia business litigation attorneys about a potential case, or when it’s appropriate to get representation, either to pursue a claim or to protect a local business from liability. We help clients to determine whether they can benefit from legal assistance in cases related to housing and housing discrimination, as well as other types of business law within the state of Virginia.

For more information about bringing or defending a claim under Virginia’s Fair Housing Act, please contact attorney Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100 or by email at byrne@martinwrenlaw.com.

Contact Our Virginia Lawyers

We serve clients throughout Virginia — from Charlottesville and Central Virginia to metropolitan Richmond; Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke; and the cities of Hampton Roads to the Northern Virginia cities of  Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington.

To speak with one of our attorneys, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. also have a statewide practice and offer free consultations at a time and location that is convenient for you.  We will gladly meet with you at your home or at the hospital, even on nights and weekends.

To schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

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