What canI do ifI am being discriminated against by my landlord?

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What canI do ifI am being discriminated against by my landlord?

I’ve been at my place for 2 years with signed lease. I have a criminal background which they new about, however, now they are saying that they are not going to renew my lease on the grounds of my background. I have no infractions since I’ve lived here.

Asked on April 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Under a combination of both federal and MN law, housing discrimination (with limited exceptions) is discrimination based on a persons status as being in one of the following classes:  race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, public assistance, sexual orientation, or familial status (i.e. families with children).  If you are treated differently because of any of the foregoing, then you are a victim of discrimination.  However, if you are not in one of the above mentioned classes, then your are afforded no legal protection.  In other words, not all discrimination is illegal (just that based on a protected class status). And unfortunately having a criminal record does not put you in such a class.

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

While it is commendable that you have stayed out of trouble in the criminal court arena, you must understand that contract law (especially landlord tenant law) really works quite differently. You are the tenant, and therefore your property right is really only limited to the tenancy in question. If your lease is renewable every year, then your landlord and you each have the option to not renew the lease. If they have indicated to you it is because of your background, you need to contact the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General and see if you can file a discrimination complaint. If this has been simply told to you and not in writing, you may have a more difficult time proving the discrimination but understand it may very well still be the option of the landlord to decide not to renew.  While landlords cannot discriminate against tenants on whom to choose to live in their units or continue to live in their units, typical discrimination categories are things like gender, national origin, race and the like.


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