Fair housing laws were enacted to ensure everyone has equal access to the housing of their choice. Fair housing laws apply to housing providers (landlords), but also real estate brokers, mortgage lenders, homeowner associations, and others. The State of Colorado was the first in the nation to pass statewide fair housing laws, barring discrimination in housing in 1959, nine years before the signing of the federal Fair Housing Act.
Housing and Persons Defined -C.R.S. § 24-34-501 (2) & (3)
All housing offered for sale, lease, rent, or transfer of ownership in Colorado is covered by the Fair Housing provisions in the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). Housing NOT covered by CADA is any room offered for rent or lease in a single-family dwelling maintained and occupied in part by the owner or lessee of said dwelling as his household.
Additionally, in limited circumstances, the prohibition against discrimination based on familial status does not apply, e.g. housing for older people, and the sale of a single-family home without the assistance of advertising, a broker, or other housing professionals.
CADA's Fair Housing provisions also apply to real estate transactions, such as making and purchasing loans secured by residential property, constructing, improving, or maintaining a dwelling, or the selling, brokering, or appraising of residential real property.
- Housing - Defined
"Housing" means any building, structure, vacant land, or part thereof offered for sale, lease, rent, or transfer of ownership; except that "housing" does not include any room offered for rent or lease in a single-family dwelling maintained and occupied in part by the owner or lessee of said dwelling as his household. -C.R.S. § 24-34-501 (2) *definition as used in part 5 (Housing Practices) section of CADA, unless the context otherwise requires.
- Person - Defined
"Person" has the meaning ascribed to such term in section 24-34-301 (5) and includes any owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, employee, or any agent of a person; but, for purposes of this part 5, "person" does not include any private club not open to the public, which as an incident to its primary purpose or purposes provides lodgings that it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose unless such club has the purpose of promoting discrimination in the matter of housing against any person because of disability, race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, national origin, or ancestry. -C.R.S. § 24-34-501 (3) *definition as used in part 5 (Housing Practices) section of CADA, unless the context otherwise requires.
Prohibited Housing Practices - C.R.S. § 24-34-502
It is an unfair housing practice and unlawful to:
- Refuse to rent or sell -i.e. “make housing unavailable”
- Apply unequal terms or conditions of sale or rental
- Refuse to allow reasonable accommodation and or modification necessary to accommodate a disability
- Redline - a practice that puts housing-related services (financial and otherwise) out of reach for residents of certain areas based on race or ethnicity. e.g. drawing "red lines" around minority neighborhoods on a map and denying loans for any purchases within the outlined area.
- Steer - practice by a real estate agent (or another housing provider) of maneuvering a client or tenant from a minority group away from considering a home in a white neighborhood.
- Intimidate, Threaten, Coerce - i.e. Harass
- Advertise with a discriminatory preference or limitation based on protected class
- Misrepresent availability
- Retaliate against a person engaging in a protected activity, e.g. complaining of discrimination or requesting a reasonable accommodation.
Protected Classes Enumerated at C.R.S. § 24-34-502
- Disability (a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits a major life activity)
- Sexual Orientation (which is statutorily defined as "including transgender status" - i.e. Gender Identity)
- Martial Status
- Familial Status
- National Origin
- Source of Income*
Persons who have engaged in protected activity (such as making a complaint of discrimination, or requesting a reasonable accommodation) are protected from retaliation for doing so.
* Source of Income as a protected class effective January 1, 2021, see HB20-1332
HUD & the Fair Housing Assistance Program
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is responsible for enforcement of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the federal Fair Housing Act) and other federal laws related to fair housing (such as section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II and III of the ADA). The CCRD has been certified by HUD FHEO as a "Fair Housing Assistance Program" or "FHAP" agency. The FHAP certification is possible because Colorado's state fair housing laws are "substantially equivalent" to the federal fair housing laws. Substantial Equivalence means Colorado fair housing law "provides substantive rights, procedures, remedies, and the availability of judicial review comparable to the federal law."
CCRD's certification as an FHAP means that, in circumstances where both state and federal law would apply, a case is "dual-filed," meaning a case is assigned both a CCRD case number and a HUD case number. Most of the CCRD's housing cases are dual-filed with HUD; however, Colorado's fair housing laws are more expansive than the federal fair housing law - as Colorado has more protected classes (ancestry, creed, marital status, sexual orientation, and source of income), and it applies to more properties (federal law does not apply to owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units).
Because Colorado's Fair Housing Laws are substantially equivalent to federal fair housing laws, guidance and information about fair housing law published by HUD about fair housing is helpful and relevant to understanding the application of Colorado's fair housing law. Visit HUD's library of Fair Housing Guidance.