April 2017 marks the 49th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act.

Each year, REALTORS® recognize the significance of this event and reconfirm their commitment to upholding fair-housing laws, as well as their commitment to offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act, is a landmark part of legislation in the United States that provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, religion, or national origin.

The Fair Housing Act made it a federal crime to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone … by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin.”

The act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during time of the riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Johnson had previously signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act into law.

Title VIII was amended in 1988 (effective March 12, 1989) by the Fair Housing Amendments Act, which:

» Expanded the coverage of the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on disability or on familial status (presence of child under age of 18, and pregnant women);

» Established new administrative enforcement mechanisms with HUD attorneys bringing actions before administrative-law judges on behalf of victims of housing discrimination;

» Revised and expanded Justice Department jurisdiction to bring suit on behalf of victims in federal district courts.

Victims of housing discrimination need not go through HUD or any other governmental agency to pursue their rights, however. The Fair Housing Act confers jurisdiction to hear cases on federal district courts.

The Justice Department also has jurisdiction to file cases on behalf of the U.S. where there is a pattern and practice of discrimination, or where HUD has found discrimination in a case and either party elects to go to federal court instead of continuing in the HUD administrative process.

— David Kim is a licensed real estate broker with Village Properties and the 2017 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at david@villagesite.com or 805.296.0662. The opinions expressed are his own.