Housing-Related Complaints

Find out what to do if you have one of these complaints when buying or renting a home.

Complaints About Mortgage Companies

If you have a complaint against a mortgage company, try to resolve it with the company first. Several government agencies accept complaints about mortgage lenders. In some cases, you should file your complaint with more than one agency, especially at the federal and state level.

Discrimination

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) enforces the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. This law prohibits lenders from denying credit because of certain characteristics. File a complaint with the CFPB if a lender has denied a mortgage application because of your:

  • Age
  • Sex (including gender)
  • Marital status
  • Children
  • Race
  • Nationality or ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Income from public assistance programs

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enforces the Fair Housing Act. This law prohibits discrimination when you rent, buy, or secure financing for a home. Your state may also have a similar law. File a complaint with (HUD) and the fair housing office in your state if a mortgage company discriminated against you because of your:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Presence of children

Mortgage Origination and Servicing

The CFPB enforces several laws, such as the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. These laws require lenders to disclose information to homebuyers before buying and over the life of the mortgage. File a complaint with the CFPB if you have a problem with a new or existing mortgage. Examples of common mortgage complaints include:

  • Applying for a mortgage
  • Receiving loan estimates and closing documents
  • Transferring a mortgage to another servicer
  • Applying your payments correctly
  • Refinancing or modifying a mortgage loan
  • Misreporting mortgage account status to you or to credit reporting agencies
  • Requiring private mortgage insurance
  • Paying additional fees

Deception and Scams

The Federal Trade Commission Act states that unfair and deceptive practices affecting commerce are unlawful. Report a mortgage company to the Federal Trade Commission if it makes deceptive statements, omits important facts, or takes misleading actions. Examples include:

  • False statements about their ability to offer a loan
  • Fees for mortgage services that aren’t provided
  • Illegal tactics to collect on mortgage balances

Also, file a complaint with your state consumer protection office about a mortgage fraud or scam. Submit a complaint about a foreclosure scam with the HOPE NOW Alliance. Call 1-888-995-HOPE (1-888-995-4673) or (TTY 1-877-304-9709).

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Identify and Complain about Housing Discrimination

Housing discrimination happens when a housing provider acts in a way that blocks someone from renting or buying housing because of their

  • Race or color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Familial status (such as having children)
  • Disability

A housing provider that discriminates against someone could be a landlord or a real estate management company. It could also be a lending institution like a bank or other organization that is an important part of acquiring a home.

Housing discrimination is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act. Discrimination covered by the Act can take many different forms beyond just raising prices or lying about availability. For example, the Act addresses wheelchair access in some newer properties. Learn what the Fair Housing Act covers, how to complain, and how the investigation process works.

File a Housing Discrimination Complaint

If you think you are a victim of housing discrimination,

 

Discrimination Against LGBT People

The Fair Housing Act does not specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But discrimination against someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) may still be in violation of the Act or other state or local regulations.  If you think you've been discriminated against for these reasons, file a complaint as described above, or email HUD at LGBTFairhousing@hud.gov with general questions about LGBT housing issues. 

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Landlord and Tenant Disputes

If you are someone who pays to rent a home or an apartment (a tenant), you may at some point have a dispute with the person who owns the building or management company that represents the owner (the landlord).  Often disputes are about the conditions of the building, essential services, rent increases, or your right to stay.  It is best to come to an agreement directly with the landlord or manager.  Make sure that you get everything in writing. If a landlord and tenant cannot come to an agreement, a tenant might turn to outside help.

Getting Help for a Dispute with a Landlord

Laws about the rights of tenants and landlords are almost always handled at the state level.  Find help from your state in a directory of state-level agencies and resources of interest to tenants. Results differ for each state, but you may find:

  • State agencies that address tenant rights.
  • Agencies that handle complaints.
  • Resources for legal assistance.

You may eventually decide that you need help from a lawyer. People with very low-income might qualify for free legal aid from a non-profit organization.

Complaints about housing discrimination or landlords who receive assistance from the federal government should be directed to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Before There's a Problem

Of course, it's best to avoid a dispute in the first place if possible.

  • Understand your lease completely.
  • Keep all correspondence between you and your landlord.
  • Communicate problems early on and in writing, noting date and time of phone calls. 
  • Keep proof of rent and deposits paid.
  • Know the landlord-tenant laws in your state.

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Last Updated: June 06, 2017

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