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Thread: Discrimination?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
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    Discrimination?

    I finally found a new home that looked promising. It is brand new -- hasn't even been built yet. The floor plan has already been established, though. This house would be perfect with minor modifications: no sunken living room, no step down to the deck, sloped entrance instead of steps.

    Through my real estate agent, I contacted the broker/developer for the property. My agent explained what I wanted, and he said (through his secretary) that he didn't build custom homes -- just spec homes. Period. When she finally was able to speak to him, he repeated that story and claimed that he now had another buyer.

    This sounds like discrimination. He refused to return phone calls or meet with me. It sounded like he didn't want to be bothered with making these modifications. I wasn't asking for a custom home -- just modifications as described above. Do I have any legal rights here, even though I never signed anything?

  2. #2
    I don't think it's discrimination. I've had the same happen to me numerous times when house hunting. Inventory home builders aren't requuired to customize or make any changes to the existing blue print. Of course they could bend the rules a little if they wanted to but they're not required to. If you want even the most minor changes made, you'll probably have to find a custom builder.

  3. #3
    Are you a HUD loan? They have specific guidelines for purchase, even for new homes. MD has laws the lay out modifications to apt complexes but I am not sure it crosses over to single family homes.

    "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
    It's already tomorrow in Australia!"----- Charles Schultz


  4. #4
    Senior Member KDK513's Avatar
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    Hi Clipper,
    You are a protected class in Real Estate sales. I would contact an attorney specializing in discrimination cases. Contact H.O.M.E. or Fairhousing in your area, as they can help you with this. They have the ability to set up a "testing" situation to determine if he does alter his home designs for other clients, or if he responds to phone calls differently than he did yours. They may be able to establish a case against him.
    If this property is listed with the Multiple Listing Service I suggest contacting your local Board of Realtors to file a complaint. If he is a member of a Homebuilders association file a complaint with them. Your realtor can provide you with these numbers. Kathy

    [This message was edited by KDK on 02-01-03 at 13:13.]

    [This message was edited by KDK on 02-01-03 at 13:15.]

    [This message was edited by KDK on 02-01-03 at 17:59.]

  5. #5
    Clipper,

    I did call and read your posting to my best friend who is a very successful realtor in our area. She said that while county codes do require certain standards in homes builders are not required to make alterations to plans. She told me that your best bet is to raise your issues with the builders at the onset of negotiating a contract. She said that some of the things would make the home to expensive, such as raising a whole room. She said that the rest of the items past appropriate width doors and such should be added on later privately. I am not an expert but she is and knows all the local builders. She will help out if you want to have a chat with her... e-mail me...

    Cheers and good luck..

    Mary

    ...and she lived happily ever after...

  6. #6
    Senior Member KDK513's Avatar
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    Take a look at this site. It may help answer your questions and will guide you toward making the first step toward resolving this issue. www.fairhousing.com/101/

    Federal Fair Housing Laws are a completely seperate issue from Building Codes. These laws were designed to prevent what just happened to you.

    [This message was edited by KDK on 02-01-03 at 18:23.]

  7. #7
    Senior Member KDK513's Avatar
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    Clipper,
    If you are building a home designed to meet your needs the additional cost should be minimal. The most expensesive item was creating a stairless entry from the garage in a house with a full basement, as this involved the addition of a shelf in the foundation wall ($1000). You will still have a 2 inch difference and will need a 2 ft. long ramp. The only additional expense to wider doorways is the larger doors and this is minimal ($200 for whole house). The shower design is determined by your special needs and cost accordingly. A highline commode is only $15 more. The charge to rough in support for grab bars is minimal. You may need to pay a kitchen designer to alter a standard design. Anything else I can help you with please let me know. Kathy

  8. #8
    Senior Member KDK513's Avatar
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    Hi Clipper,
    I was wondering if you pursued reporting this builders actions.
    Kathy

  9. #9
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
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    The builder continued to be a royal ass to deal with, so I decided to pursue other options. I figured that I didn't want to deal with his attitude throughout the building process. Also, I'm dealing with all this from across the country (though my parents live there and I make trips as needed). Thanks for all your help. I'm applying your advice to my current hunt.

  10. #10
    Clipper,
    I copied this from the fair housing Act. As you can see, if the builder has more than 5 new structures, he is obligated to provide the necessary midifications. Recourse can be done Federally with the DOJ or through private legal action.

    Fair Housing Act

    The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing
    discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability,
    familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private
    housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State
    and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any
    aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or
    renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual
    associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to
    live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example,
    financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.

    The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make
    reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people
    with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord
    with a "no pets" policy may be required to grant an exception to this
    rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the
    residence. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants
    with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to
    their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. (The
    landlord is not required to pay for the changes.) The Act further
    requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be
    designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This
    includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for
    wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a
    wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units.

    Complaints of Fair Housing Act violations may be filed with the U.S.
    Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    For more information or to file a complaint, contact:
    Office of Program Compliance and Disability Rights
    Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
    451 7th Street, SW (Room 5242)
    Washington, D.C. 20140

    You may also call the Fair Housing Information Clearinghouse at:
    (800) 343-3442 (voice) (800) 483-2209 (TDD)

    Additionally, the Department of Justice can file cases involving a
    pattern or practice of discrimination. The Fair Housing Act may also be
    enforced through private lawsuits.

    "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
    It's already tomorrow in Australia!"----- Charles Schultz


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