Home Guide for LGBTQ: Everything You Need to Know

Despite huge strides, the LGBTQ community still faces discrimination. This home guide for LGBTQ people and their families can help with information about housing rights, housing assistance, and property ownership. It is worth noting that some states have specific laws protecting against the discrimination of LGBTQ people when it comes to housing matters, but not all do, making it important to know about what protections your state offers.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Despite the historic Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the US, the LGBTQ community still faces some hurdles, but housing does not have to be one of them. The following is information about housing rights, housing assistance, and property ownership.

Your Rights

Every citizen has a fundamental human right to housing regardless of their economic status, race, sex, and religion. This right is enshrined and protected in the US Constitution itself and various international human rights conventions which means that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that all citizens enjoy this right.

Knowing the specific rights that apply to you in the location you are in is the first step.

Resources:

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Renting

Housing rights are enforced under The Fair Housing Act which disallows tenant discrimination in any housing-related transaction (including renting or buying properties) because of their race, sex, religion, perceived disability, or family status. This does not specifically cover sexual orientation or gender identity.

Still, it is worth noting that some states have specific laws protecting against the discrimination of LGBTQ people when it comes housing matters. It is illegal to refuse possible tenants because of their sexual orientation in states like Washington, Iowa, Colorado, and Minnesota.

Renting Tips for LGBTQ

Here are some renting tips that may help to make the search for a new abode a little easier:

  • Check to see if there are specific discrimination laws in the state, city, or municipality you are apartment-hunting in.
  • If you experience harassment from other tenants, make sure to put down your complaint in writing and inform your landlord of any incidents.
  • You may also be able to escalate your case to your local fair housing agency if you are in government subsidized housing and the harassment continues.
  • Remember to keep all documents such as leases, receipts, complaints, and notices in case you end up needing them later on.

Resources:

Buying

Buying a house or other property is a step that most couples take as they grow more financially stable and committed to each other. Since property laws protect married couples (who are treated as a single entity), unmarried LGBTQ couples may want to consider securing their future by drawing up contracts that will provide the same protections automatically enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

Types of Ownership

A property’s ownership usually indicates how it will be transferred or handled in case one partner dies. Here are some of the most common types of ownership and how they might (or might not) benefit you:

Simple Ownership of Real Property: This type of ownership allows the individual owner of a property the right to mortgage, sell, lease, or pass property to another person after the owner’s death.

Tenancy in Common: Tenancy in Common allows two or more people to co-own a single property. In this type of ownership, owners are entitled to divisions of property.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship: Similar to tenancy in common, two or more owners are allowed to own a property together. Joint tenancy ensures that an owner’s share of the property goes directly to the other owner in case of the former’s death.

Sole Ownership: There are cases when couples decide to choose to have their property titled under one of their name’s only to enjoy a tax advantage. However, this can be risky for the unnamed person especially in the case of the owner’s death.

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Taxes and Owning Property

Community property law, which governs how much tax a couple pays for the property they acquire while married, vary from state to state. States are making moves towards being more inclusive in how they tax couples; however, not all have caught up yet. Check to see what the rules are in your local area.

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Navigating Housing Boards

Here is a list of the government agencies which are mainly concerned with housing issues:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD is the primary government agency responsible for national housing programs and assistance. They are also the ones who process housing discrimination cases.

The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is an office under the HUD responsible for implementing federal laws and policies that ensure equal access to housing.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is another office under the HUD. Its main responsibility is to provide mortgage insurance and hospital loans made by FHA-approved lenders

Resources:

Shelters and Housing Assistance

Members of the LGBT community who have suddenly become homeless have the choice of going to shelters. Here are the different types of shelters you can go to depending on your circumstances:

  • Emergency shelters: Short-term housing for individuals who suddenly find themselves homeless.
  • Drop-in Centers: A temporary place for homeless people to hang out in to get away from dangerous street life.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing: Long-term housing ideal for people who are recovering from addiction or suffering from disabilities.
  • Transitional Housing: Programs that help individuals or families find permanent housing.

Resources:

National Coalition of the homeless: LGBT homelessness

Volunteers of America: Homeless people

USA.gov: Finding home

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Additional Resources

The True Colors Fund is an organization focused on meeting the needs of homeless LGBTQ youth through studies and free training. Check out their Survival Guide for Independent LGBT Youth for more information.

The National Coalition for the Homeless is another organization whose goal is to solve the problem of homelessness in the US. They offer both preventive and emergency assistance services in various communities all over the country. Check out their website for a directory of shelters and housing assistance centers.

Are you a senior citizen? More LGBTQ-friendly senior housing options may become available. Learn about them on AARP’s website.

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