The Fulton Human Rights Commission hosted a fair-housing seminar Thursday night at city hall.
After a short introduction by Mayor LeRoy Benton and Commission President Carmen Brandt, Erik Krekel, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights director of investigative operations, got down to business.
"The Missouri Human Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act provide coverage to protected categories of people," Krekel said. "Those people are covered when engaging in the sale, rental or financing of a property. Nearly all forms of residences are covered."
Krekel said protected classes include:
"You are also protected from retaliation for filing a complaint," Krekel said. "The people who must comply with the law is anyone with control over residential property, including landlords and rental managers."
Discrimination due to a protected status takes many forms, Krekel said.
"Discrimination could be setting different terms in a sale or rental of housing," he said. "Or, it could be refusal to sell or rent at all. (Landlords and managers) are also prohibited from making discriminatory statements or advertisements."
Pets are not a protected class and can be a factor allowing a landlord to refuse rental.
"Service animals, on the other hand, are not pets," he said. "Emotional support animals are also not pets. If you can provide proof that a doctor said you need the animal, a landlord can not turn you away or refuse to rent to you because of it. They also can't make you pay a higher deposit, and in some cases waive the animal fee completely."
If a person feels they are being discriminated against due to one of these protected statuses, Krekel said they can file a complaint.
"If you go to the website (labor.mo.gov/mohumanrights), there is a page called file a complaint that lets a person fill out a questionnaire on their problem," he said. "They can also call, email or write a letter."
A complaint must be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory act.