There are several things you can do to enforce your right to live free of housing discrimination.
- If your landlord has filed an eviction against you, and you believe that the reason for the eviction was discriminatory, you can raise that as a defense to the eviction. You can also file a counterclaim for money damages in the same case.
- You may file a Fair Housing Complaint, with one of these agencies or offices:
- The HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). You can contact an FHEO intake specialist by calling 1-800-669-9777 or 1-800-877-8339. Or, you may file on line at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint.
- The City of Cleveland Fair Housing Board, in the City’s Office of Fair Housing & Consumer Affairs. You can reach the Board office by telephone at 216.664.2018 (English) or 664.2019 (Spanish). Normal office hours are weekdays 8 am to 5 p.m., at 601 Lakeside Avenue (office hours currently may be limited due to Covid-19, so call ahead). Or, you can reach the office on line at: http://www.city.cleveland.oh.us/CityofCleveland/Home/Government/CityAgencies/ConsumerAffairs
- You can file a housing discrimination charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC). You may call the OCRC regional office in your area; find the telephone number here: https://www.crc.ohio.gov/AboutUs/RegionalOffices.aspx. Or, you can get information and instructions for filing online here: https://www.crc.ohio.gov/FilingaCharge/Housing.aspx.
- Get help filing a fair housing complaint. The Fair Housing Center for Rights and Research offers victims free assistance in the administrative complaint process. Their staff can help by providing education on fair housing rights, investigating complaints, and contacting housing providers on a tenant’s behalf. You can reach the Center at 216-361-9240, or online at www.thehousingcenter.org
- Speak to a lawyer regarding your Fair Housing issues. You can call Legal Aid’s Tenant Information Line at 216-861-5955 (Cuyahoga) or 440-210-4533 (Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Lorain). If you need legal assistance but cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you can apply to Legal Aid by calling 1-888-817-3777 during most business hours or online anytime at https://lasclev.org/contact/.
Filing a complaint with the agencies or offices listed above may impact your ability to file a lawsuit later. If you are interested in preserving your right to file a lawsuit, you may want to speak to an attorney first.