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Section 9: Legal Remedies

A person wishing to file a discrimination complaint with the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) can do so within one year of the violation. A person wishing to file a discrimination complaint in federal or state court can do so within two years of the violation.

In a fair housing complaint, there are several types of relief available to a resident.

  • Actual damages are money awarded to the resident to compensate the resident for actual loss suffered because of the housing provider’s discrimination, such as compensation for lost housing opportunities, rent differentials, out of pocket expenses, emotional suffering, moving expenses, and other costs.
  • Injunctive and equitable relief requires a housing provider to do or not do a specified act. Its purpose is to correct the effects of the fair housing violation and prevent future violations. It may require a housing provider to: attend a fair housing training, grant the accommodation or modification, and/or create a reasonable accommodation or modification policy.
  • Under the fair housing laws, a resident who successfully brings an action against the housing provider can recover the costs of an attorney to handle the case.
  • For actions brought by HUD, the U.S. Department of Justice, or IDHR, housing providers can be required to pay civil penalties or fines for violating the fair housing laws, to vindicate the public interest. In assessing what that fine should be, courts will consider the following factors: (1) the egregious nature of the violation; (2) the culpability of the housing provider; (3) the financial circumstances of the housing provider; and (4) the need to deter the housing provider from committing future violations.
  • Punitive damages are money damages awarded to the resident to punish the housing provider for particularly bad acts and to deter others from similar misconduct.
  • HUD can require housing providers that receive federal funds to return those funds for violating federal fair housing laws. Projects receiving Low Income Housing Tax Credits can also have their credits recaptured by the Internal Revenue Service.

9A: Legal Guidance

9B: Statutes

9C: Municipal Ordinances

Units of local governments, such as municipalities and counties, may also have their own civil rights ordinances. Housing providers should check with their units of local governments to learn whether they have an ordinance that may apply.

9D: Regulations