[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Zolfo Springs 11-21-1988 by Ord. No. 88-9; printed as amended 2-11-1991 by Ord. No. 91-2 and 4-28-1997 by Ord. No. 97-3. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as and may be cited as the "Fair Housing Code of the Town of Zolfo Springs, Florida."
It is the policy of the Town of Zolfo Springs, Florida, in keeping with the laws of the United States of America and the spirit of the Constitution of the State of Florida, to promote through fair, orderly and lawful procedure the opportunity for each person so desiring to obtain housing of such person's choice in this Town, without regard to race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap or age, and, to that end, to prohibit discrimination in housing by any person.
The terms as used herein shall be defined as follows:
- Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the word "age" as used herein shall refer exclusively to persons who are 18 years of age or older.
- A. One or more individuals (who have not attained the age of 18 years) being domiciled with a parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals or the designee of such parent or other persons having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other persons. The protection afforded against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.
- B. Any provision herein regarding familial status does not apply with respect to housing for older persons.
- (1) As used in this subsection, the term "housing for older persons" means housing:
- (a) Provided under any state or federal program that the Council determines is specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons, as defined in state or federal programs.
- (b) Intended for, and solely occupied by, persons 62 years of age or older.
- (c) Intended for, and solely occupied by, at least one person 55 years of age or older per unit in 80% of the units.
- (2) Housing shall not fail to be considered housing for older persons if:
- (a) A person who resides in such housing on or after October 1, 1989, does not meet the age requirements of this subsection, provided that any new occupant meets such age requirements; or
- (b) One or more units are unoccupied, provided that any occupied units are reserved for occupancy by persons who meet the age requirements of this subsection.
- One or more persons living together as a single housekeeping unit in a dwelling.
- HOUSING or HOUSING ACCOMMODATION
- Any building, structure, or portion thereof, mobile home or trailer, or other facility which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families and any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure, or portion thereof, mobile home or trailer or other facility.
- LENDING INSTITUTION
- Any bank, insurance company, savings and loan association or other person or organization regularly engaged in the business of lending money, guaranteeing loans, or sources of credit information, including but not limited to credit bureaus.
- Any person, including but not limited to a lessee, sublessee, assignee, manager, or agent, and also including the Town of Zolfo Springs, Florida, and its departments or other subunits, having the right of ownership or possession or the authority to sell or lease any housing accommodation.
- One or more individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, labor organizations, legal representatives, mortgage companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, or public corporations, including but not limited to the Town of Zolfo Springs, Florida, or any department or subunit thereof.
- REAL ESTATE AGENT
- Any real estate broker, any real estate salesman, or any other person, employee, agent, or otherwise, engaged in the management or operation of any real property.
- REAL ESTATE BROKER OR SALESMAN
- A person, whether licensed or not, who, for or with the expectation of receiving a consideration, lists, sells, purchases, exchanges, rents, or leases real property, or who negotiates or attempts to negotiate any of these activities, or who holds himself or herself out as engaged in these activities, or who negotiates or attempts to negotiate a loan secured or to be secured by mortgage or other encumbrance upon real property, or who is engaged in the business of listing real property in a publication, or a person employed by or acting on behalf of any of these.
- REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION
- Includes the sale, purchase, exchange, rental or lease of real property, and any contract pertaining thereto.
- Includes lease, sublease, assignment and/or rental, including any contract to do any of the foregoing, or otherwise granting for a consideration the right to occupy premises that are not owned by the occupant.
- Any person against whom a complaint is filed pursuant to this chapter.
- Includes any contract to sell, exchange, or to convey, transfer or assign legal or equitable title to, or a beneficial interest in, real property.
Sale or rental and advertising in connection therewith. Except as provided in § 151-5 hereof, it shall be unlawful and a discriminatory housing practice for an owner, or any other person engaging in a real estate transaction, or for a real estate broker, as defined in this chapter, because of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap or age:
To refuse to engage in a real estate transaction with a person or to otherwise make unavailable or deny housing to any person.
To discriminate against a person in the terms, conditions or privileges of a real estate transaction or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection therewith.
To refuse to receive or to fail to transmit a bona fide offer to engage in a real estate transaction from a person.
To refuse to negotiate for a real transaction with a person.
To represent to a person that housing is not available for inspection, sale, rental or lease when, in fact, it is so available, or to fail to bring a property listing to such person's attention, or to refuse to permit him or her to inspect the housing.
To steer any person away from or to any housing.
To make, print, publish, circulate, post or mail, or cause to be made, printed, published or circulated, any notice, statement, advertisement or sign, or to use a form of application or photograph for a real estate transaction or, except in connection with a written affirmative action plan, to make a record or oral or written inquiry in connection with a prospective real estate transaction, which indicates directly or indirectly an intent to make a limitation, specification, or discrimination with respect thereto.
To offer, solicit, accept, use or retain a listing of housing with the understanding that a person may be discriminated against in a real estate transaction or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection therewith.
To induce or attempt to induce any person to transfer an interest in any housing by representations regarding the existing or potential proximity of housing owned, used or occupied by any person protected by the terms of this chapter.
To make any misrepresentations concerning the listing for sale or rental, or the anticipated listing for sale or rental, or the sale or rental of any housing in any area in the Town of Zolfo Springs, Florida, for the purpose of inducing or attempting to induce any such listing or any of the above transactions.
To retaliate or discriminate in any manner against any person because of his or her opposing a practice declared unlawful by this chapter or because he or she has filed a complaint, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or conference under this chapter.
To aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce any person to engage in any of the practices prohibited by the provisions of this chapter or to obstruct or prevent any person from complying with the provisions of this chapter or any conciliation agreement entered into thereunder.
By canvassing, to compel any unlawful practices prohibited by the provisions of this chapter.
Otherwise to deny to, or withhold, any housing accommodations from a person.
To promote, induce, or influence, or attempt to promote, induce or influence, by the use of postal cards, letters, circulars, telephone, visitation or any other means, directly or indirectly, a property owner, occupant, or tenant to list for sale, sell, remove from, lease, assign, transfer, or otherwise dispose of any housing by referring, as a part of a process or pattern of inciting neighborhood unrest, community tension, or fear of racial, religious, nationality or ethnic change in any street, block, neighborhood or any other area, to the race, color, religion, or racial origin of actual, possible or anticipated neighbors, tenants or other prospective buyers of any housing.
To place a sign or display any other device either purporting to offer for sale, lease, assignment, transfer or other disposition or tending to lead to the belief that a bona fide offer is being made to sell, lease, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of any housing that is not in fact available or offered for sale, lease, assignment, transfer or other disposition.
Financing. It shall be unlawful and a discriminatory housing practice for any lending institution to deny a loan or other financial assistance to a person applying therefor for the purpose of purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing or maintaining housing or to discriminate against such person in the fixing of the amount, interest rate, duration, or other terms or conditions of such loan or other financial assistance because of the race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap or age of such person or of any person associated with such person in connection with such loan or other assistance, or of the present or prospective owners, lessees, tenants or occupants of the housing in relation to which such loan or other financial assistance is to be made or given, provided that nothing contained in this subsection shall impair the scope or effectiveness of the exceptions contained in § 151-5 of this chapter.
Brokerage service. It shall be unlawful and a discriminatory housing practice to deny any person access to or membership or participation in any multiple listing service, real estate brokers' organization or other service, organization, or facility related to the business of selling or renting houses or to discriminate against such person in the terms or conditions of such access, membership or participation because of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap or age.
Nothing contained in § 151-4 hereof shall prohibit a religious organization, association or society or any nonprofit charitable or educational institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society from limiting or from advertising the sale, rental or occupancy of housing which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose to persons of the same religion or from giving preference to such persons, nor shall anything in this chapter prohibit a private club not in fact open to the public which, as an incident to its primary purpose or purposes, provides lodgings which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose from limiting the rental or occupancy of such lodgings to its members or from giving preference to it members.
Any single-family house sold or rented by an owner, provided that such private individual owner does not own more than three single-family houses at one time; provided, further, that in the case of the sale of any such single-family house by a private individual owner not residing in such house at the time of such sale or who was not the most recent resident of such house prior to the sale, the exemption granted by this subsection shall apply only with respect to one such sale within any twenty-four-month period; provided, further, that such private individual owner does not own any interest in, nor is there owned or reserved on such owner's behalf, rights to all or a portion of the proceeds from the sale or rental of more than three such single-family houses at any one time; provided, further, that the owner sells or rents such housing without the use in any manner of the sales or rental facilities or the sales or rental services of any real estate broker, agent, or salesperson or of such facilities or services of any person in the business of selling or renting housing, or of any employee or agency of any such broker, agent, salesperson, or person, and without the publication, posting or mailing, after notice, of any advertisement or written notice in violation of § 151-4A(7) hereof, but nothing in this provision shall prohibit the use of attorneys, escrow agents, abstractors, title companies, and other such professional assistance as necessary to perfect or transfer the title; or
Rooms or units in housing containing living quarters occupied or intended to be occupied by no more than four families living independently of each other, if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such living quarters as such owner's residence, provided that the owner sells or rents such rooms or units without the use in any manner of the sales or rental services of any real estate broker, agent or salesperson, or of such facilities or services of any person in the business of selling or renting housing, or of any employee or agency of any such broker, agent, salesperson, or person, and without the publication, posting or mailing, after notice, of any advertisement or written notice in violation of § 151-4A(7) hereof, but nothing in this provision shall prohibit the use of attorneys, escrow agents, abstractors, title companies, and other such professional assistance as necessary to perfect or transfer the title.
For the purpose of this Subsection B, a person shall be deemed to be in the business of selling or renting housing if:
He has, within the preceding 12 months, participated as principal, other than in the sale of his own personal residence, in providing sales or rental facilities or sales or rental services in three or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any housing or any interest therein;
He has, within the preceding 12 months, participated as agent, other than in the sale of his own personal residence, in providing sales or rental facilities or sales or rental services in two or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any housing or any interest therein; or
He is the owner of any housing designed or intended for occupancy by, or occupied by, five or more families.
Nothing in § 151-4 hereof shall be construed to:
Bar any person from restricting sales, rentals, leases or occupancy or from giving preference to persons of a given age for bona fide housing intended solely for the elderly or bona fide housing intended solely for minors.
Make it an unlawful act to require that a person have legal capacity to enter into a contract or lease.
Bar any person from advertising or from refusing to sell or rent any housing which is planned exclusively for, and occupied exclusively by, individuals of one sex to any individual of the opposite sex.
Bar any person selling, renting or advertising any housing which is planned exclusively for, and occupied exclusively by, unmarried individuals to unmarried individuals only.
Bar any person from advertising or from refusing to sell or rent any housing which is planned exclusively for married couples without children or from segregating families with children to special units of housing.
Bar any person from refusing a loan or other financial assistance to any person whose life expectancy, according to generally accepted mortality tables, is less than the term for which the loan is requested.
Town Council to appoint. The authority and responsibility for administering this chapter shall be vested in the Town Council, which shall appoint an Administrator.
General powers and duties. The Administrator shall:
Receive written complaints as hereinafter provided in § 151-7 relative to alleged unlawful acts under this chapter when a complainant seeks the Administrator's good offices to conciliate.
Upon receiving written complaint, make such investigations as the Administrator deems appropriate to ascertain facts and issues.
Utilize methods of persuasion, conciliation, and mediation or information adjustment of grievances.
Establish, administer or review programs at the request of the Town Council and make reports on such programs to the Town Council.
Bring to the attention of the Town Council items that may require the Town Council's notice or action to resolve.
Render to the Town Council annual written reports of his activities under the provisions of this chapter, along with such comments and recommendations as he may choose to make.
Cooperate with and render technical assistance to federal, state, local and other public and private agencies, organizations and institutions which are formulating or carrying on programs to prevent or eliminate the unlawful discriminatory practices covered by the provisions of this chapter.
Determination of probable cause. If after fully processing the complaint in the manner hereafter provided the Administrator determines that there is probable cause to believe that there has been a violation of the provisions of this chapter, he shall refer the matter, along with the facts he has gathered in his investigations, to the proper county, state or federal authorities for appropriate legal action.
Promulgation of forms and regulations. The Administrator shall promulgate, publish and distribute the necessary forms, rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this chapter.
A person who claims that another person has committed a discriminatory housing practice against him may report that offense to the Administrator by filing an informal complaint within 45 days after the date of the alleged discriminatory housing practice and not later.
The Administrator shall treat a complaint referred by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or the Attorney General of the United States under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Public Law 90-284, as an informal complaint filed under Subsection A.
An informal complaint must be in writing, verified or affirmed, on a form to be supplied by the Administrator and shall contain the following:
The identity and address of the respondent.
The date of the offense and the date of filing the informal complaint.
A general statement of the facts of the offense, including the basis of the discrimination (race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap or age).
The name and signature of the complainant.
Each complaint shall be held in confidence by the Administrator unless and until the complainant and the respondent(s) consent in writing that it shall be made public.
Within 15 days after the filing of the informal complaint, the Administrator shall transmit a copy of the same to each respondent named therein by certified mail, return receipt requested. Thereupon, the respondent(s) may file a written, verified informal answer to the informal complaint within 20 days of the date of the receipt of the informal complaint.
An informal complaint or answer may be amended at any time, and the Administrator shall furnish a copy of each amended informal complaint or answer to the respondent(s) and complainant, respectively, as promptly as practicable.
The Administrator shall assist complainants or respondents when necessary in the preparation and filing of informal complaints or answers or any amendments thereto.
Within 30 days after the filing of an informal complaint, the Administrator shall make such investigation as he deems appropriate to ascertain facts and issues. If the Administrator shall deem that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a violation has occurred and can be resolved by conciliation, he shall attempt to conciliate the matter by methods of initial conference and persuasion with all interested parties and such representatives as the parties may choose to assist them. Conciliation conferences shall be informal, and nothing said or done in the course of the informal conference with the individuals to resolve the dispute may be public or used as evidence in a subsequent proceeding by either party without the written consent of both the complainant and the respondent(s). The Administrator or employee of the Administrator who shall make public any information in violation of this provision shall be deemed guilty of a violation of a Town ordinance and shall be subject to penalty as set forth in § 151-12 of this chapter.
If the parties desire to conciliate, the terms of this conciliation shall be reduced to writing in the form approved by the Administrator and must be signed and verified by the complainant and respondent(s) and approved by the Administrator. The conciliation agreement shall be for conciliation purposes only and shall not constitute an admission by any party that the law has been violated.
If the Administrator deems that there is not probable cause to believe that the alleged discriminatory housing practice has been committed, the Administrator shall take no further action with respect to the alleged offense.
If the Administrator, with respect to any matter, involves a contravention of this chapter by failing to conciliate a complaint after the parties, in good faith, have attempted such conciliation or by determining that the violation alleged in the complaint cannot be resolved by conciliation, he shall notify both the complainant and the respondent(s) within 30 days of the failure or the determination, and he shall proceed as provided in § 151-6C hereinabove.
The procedure prescribed by this chapter does not constitute an administrative prerequisite to another action or remedy available under other law. Further, nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to modify, impair or otherwise affect any right or remedy conferred by the Constitution or laws of the United States or the State of Florida, and the provisions of this chapter shall be in addition to those provided by such other laws.
The Administrator may conduct educational and public informational activities that are designed to promote the policy of this chapter.
It shall be a violation of this chapter for any person knowingly and willfully to make false or untrue statements, accusations or allegations in a complaint filed hereunder or to give false testimony concerning violations of this chapter.
Any person who violates any provisions of this chapter shall be subject, upon conviction, to a fine up to but not exceeding the sum of $300 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and imprisonment.