Source of Funds

Source of funds, or source of income, became a protected class in the Virginia Fair Housing Law on July 1, 2020.
It is unlawful to discriminate because of any source that lawfully provides funds to or on behalf of a renter or buyer of housing, including any assistance, benefit, or subsidy program, whether such program is administered by a governmental or nongovernmental entity.

Examples of sources of funds include:
  • Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)
  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH)
  • Rent Relief Program Funds
  • Emergency rental assistance from nonprofit entities
  • And others

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the nation’s largest rental assistance program helping more than 5 million people in 2.2 million low-income families afford private rental housing. In Virginia, approximately 113,200 people (46,300 households) use vouchers to afford housing. In 2012, HOME contacted 124 apartment complexes in the Richmond metro region to determine if they accepted vouchers. Just 33(26.6%) replied that they did. In late 2018, using an online rental listing website, HOME contacted 139 apartment complexes across the region. Just 26 (18.75%) accepted vouchers. Extending Virginia’s fair housing laws to protect source of income will help deconcentrate poverty and desegregate neighborhoods.

Examples of discrimination include:
  • A landlord charges more or requires an additional deposit when a Housing Voucher is presented.
  • Stating “No Section 8” in a rental listing or an ad.
  • A landlord making demeaning comments about whether or not a tenant deserves their disability benefits, their Housing Choice Voucher, or other assistance.
  • Refusing to rent to an otherwise well-qualified tenant because of stereotypes about people who receive financial assistance.
  • A landlord setting an income requirement for a tenant with a Housing Choice Voucher, but not factoring in the amount paid by the Voucher.
    Though income qualifying criteria is not inherently discriminatory, housing providers must take care not to apply the criteria in a manner that will automatically disqualify tenants who receive assistance. Tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers have a portion of their rent paid by a third party. So if the income criteria is 3x the rent, the amount paid for by the Voucher should be subtracted from the total rent to ensure the criteria is only applying to the portion that the tenant is responsible for. See page four of the Virginia Real Estate Board’s Guidance document for more information.

Landlords are required by law to treat all applicants the same regardless of what legal source of funds are used to pay rent. This includes looking at credit and rental history, sufficiency of funds, and adhering to a background check. Receiving financial assistance should not automatically disqualify someone from renting.
 

 

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The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Have you experienced discrimination based on your source of funds?