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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the relationship between IFHMB and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)?

A: IFHMB is a separate and distinct entity from HUD. However, IFHMB receives federal funding from HUD and has been certified as a “HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency”.

Q: Do IFHMB investigators conduct inspections at properties or is everything handled by phone?

A: With the exception of on-site accessibility tests, IFHMB generally does not conduct property inspections. Most mediation work is conducted by phone. IFHMB will make exceptions when inspections are at a city’s request.

Q: What information can be shared with others regarding individual cases?

A: Information provided by a complainant is confidential. Any information shared with others is dependent on approval by all parties involved in the mediation except as required by law.

Q: How soon is action taken after IFHMB is contacted?

A: All calls have a 48-hour turn-around, with exception of urgent calls, which have the same day turnaround.

Q: Are there situations with which IFHMB doesn’t get involved?

A: Only if the party declines mediation. We can pursue a fair housing complaint by acting as the complainant even if the original complainant does not want to pursue.

Q: What are the five races recognized by HUD?

A: White, African-American, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native.

Q: Which race category does a Hispanic person belong to?

A: Hispanic individuals are considered to be White, with Hispanic ethnicity.

Q: Is it considered a discriminatory act to refuse to rent to a person with religious beliefs other than your own?

A: Yes, it is considered discriminatory and is prohibited under the Federal Fair Housing Act and by the state Fair Employment and Housing Act under the protected category of religion.

Q: What’s the difference between color and race?

A: Color is the pigmentation of a person’s skin while race is a term used to classify people with a common history.

Q: What’s the difference between sex and sexual orientation?

A: Sex refers to a person being male or female while sexual orientation refers to a person’s preference to be with a partner of the same, opposite or both sexes.

Q: Who is protected under the category of Familial Status?

A: Any person with a child under the age of 18, pregnant women, and any person in the process of adopting or gaining custody of a child.

Q: Is a blind person protected by the Fair Employment and Housing Act?

A: Yes, a blind person is protected under the FEHA, which is the state equivalent of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Q: Is Section 8 considered verifiable income?

A: No, Section 8 is a voucher program that is funded by government funds and is not considered income.

Q: What is the occupancy standard per DFEH and what else can be used to determine the number of occupants?

A: The 2+1 guideline is used by DFEH (2 in the bedroom +1 in the common area).  However, this principle is a guideline and not a rule. The square footage, the age of children, the size of bedrooms and the configuration of the dwelling can also be used.

Q: What is steering?

A: Steering is directing a person of a protected category to certain housing options and away from others.

Q: Should you tell a potential renter that a unit is not available when you know it is?

A: No, per the Federal Register (24 C.F.R §100.80 (a)), It shall be unlawful, because of any of the protected categories to provide inaccurate or untrue information about the availability of dwellings for sale or rental.

Q: Who is ultimately held responsible for any fair housing rights violations?

A: The owner of the property where the violation occurred.

Q: What is the difference between a reasonable accommodation and a reasonable modification?

A: Reasonable accommodation is the change in rules, practices or policies for a person with a disability; while a reasonable modification is a structural change or repair in a rental unit or the common area of the property that would make it accessible to a disabled person.

Q: Can a housing provider inquire about the specific nature of a tenant’s disability?

A: No, a housing provider may not inquire about the specific nature of a tenant’s disability. However, if a reasonable modification or accommodation is requested by a tenant and the disability is not apparent, the housing provider may request verification of a disability from a professional.

Q: When is the tenant responsible for costs associated with a reasonable modification?

A: The tenant is responsible for costs if the structure was built before March 13, 1991.