519 East Front Street
Butte, Montana 59701
(406) 782-2573 / 1-800-929-2611
Montana Relay: 711 - Fax: (406) 782-2781
E-mail: inquiry@montanafairhousing.org
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Our Mission

Montana Fair Housing is a private, full service, non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of housing discrimination, and the advancement of civil rights.

The mission of Montana Fair Housing, Inc., is to promote fair housing throughout Montana, and elsewhere. Among MFH's specific purposes and goals is the promotion of equal opportunity in all housing related transactions, and to ensure all housing is available on a non-discriminatory basis. In addition, Montana Fair Housing supports the pursuit and expansion of all civil rights available in Montana and throughout the United States.

Montana Fair Housing serves housing providers and consumers across the state, responding to inquiries and discriminatory housing complaints. We provide information and support to consumers and industry representatives, and investigate allegations of discrimination in housing. MFH counsels victims of housing discrimination and assists them in filing federal and state administrative complaints.

Federal and state fair housing laws prohibit discriminatory practices in any industry-related business or transaction that may impact the ability of protected class members to secure housing and/or live in the housing of their choice. These laws address discriminatory practices in the rental, sales, insurance, advertising, and mortgage and lending industries, as well as transactions that include the actions of Home Owner Associations and the enforcement of covenants. There are exemptions provided and under certain circumstances some protected class members may be excluded from particular housing sites.

As a private, non-profit organization, any donation you make is tax deductible.
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Activities

Montana Fair Housing investigates allegations of discrimination in housing, counsels victims of discrimination, and facilitates both the state and federal complaint process. We also assist victims of housing discrimination, under specific circumstances, in securing the representation of counsel when the filing of a complaint in federal or district court is deemed the best option.

MFH maintains, and will provide on request, a list of housing that should be accessible to persons using a wheelchair for mobility, and available to all applicants on a non-discriminatory basis.

Montana Fair Housing can provide dispute resolution services upon the request of a housing provider or consumer.

Information about discrimination in housing:

The federal Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Montana Human Rights Act prohibit discrimination in housing based on someone's protected class status.

The federally protected classes are:

  • Race or Color

  • National Origin

  • Religion

  • Sex (Gender)

  • Familial Status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)

  • Handicap (Disability)

The state protected classes are:

  • Creed

  • Marital Status

  • Age

Both the federal and state fair housing acts prohibit retaliation against anyone who exerts their civil rights under the acts.

Some local jurisdictions also provide non-discrimination ordinances.

What Housing Is Covered?

The Fair Housing Acts cover most housing accommodations, and all transactions related to the selling, purchasing or rental of housing. In some circumstances, the Acts exempt owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units (state law states no more than two units), single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What Is Prohibited?

In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status or disability, and in the state of Montana, additionally creed, age or marital status:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing

  • Refuse to negotiate for housing

  • Make housing unavailable

  • Deny a dwelling

  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling

  • Provide different housing services or facilities

  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental

  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or

  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

In Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status or disability, and in the state of Montana, additionally creed, age or marital status:

  • Refuse to make a mortgage loan

  • Refuse 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 or

  • Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.

In addition it is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right

  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, or disability, and in Montana, additionally creed, marital status or age. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Acts.

If You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated:

Call Montana Fair Housing. You have one year after an alleged violation to file a federal complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but you should contact Montana Fair Housing as soon as possible. You have six months to file a state complaint with the Montana Human Rights Bureau.

What to Tell Montana Fair Housing:

  • Your name and address

  • The name and address of the person your complaint is against (the respondent)

  • The address or other identification of the housing involved

  • A short description of the alleged violation (the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated)

  • The date(s) of the alleged violation

  • The name of, and contact information for, any witnesses

Montana Fair Housing can:

  • Investigate your complaint and determine whether there may be reasonable cause to believe the federal and/or state Fair Housing Acts have been violated.

  • Assist you in filing a complaint of housing discrimination with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and/or the Montana Human Rights Bureau.

  • MFH can provide, under certain circumstances, dispute resolution between the provider and consumer prior to the filing of a formal complaint of housing discrimination with HUD and/or the HRB.

What Happens After A Complaint Investigation?

If, after investigating your complaint, HUD and/or HRB find reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, you will be informed of your right to request your case be heard in an administrative hearing, unless you or the respondent want the case to be heard in Federal District Court.

The Administrative Hearing:

If your case goes to an administrative hearing, an attorney will litigate the case on your behalf. You may intervene in the case and be represented by your own attorney. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will consider evidence from you and the respondent. If the ALJ decides that discrimination occurred, the respondent can be ordered:

  • To compensate you for actual damages, including humiliation, pain and suffering.

  • To provide injunctive or other equitable relief, for example, to make the housing available to you.

  • To pay the Federal/State Government a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest.

  • To pay reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

Federal District Court:

If you or the respondent choose to have your case decided in Federal District Court, the Attorney General will file a suit and litigate it on your behalf. Like the ALJ, the District Court can order relief, including the award of actual damages, and/or attorney's fees and costs. In addition, the court can award punitive damages.

You may file suit, at your expense, in Federal District Court or State Court within two years of an alleged violation. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court may appoint one for you. You may bring your suit even after filing a complaint with HUD and/or HRB, if you have not signed a conciliation agreement and an Administrative Law Judge has not started a hearing. A court may award actual and punitive damages and attorney's fees and costs.

Links to additional sites on Fair Housing:

Contact Montana Fair Housing at inquiry@montanafairhousing.org
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