Three new datasets covering housing related laws were published today on LawAtlas.org, the Center for Public Health Research website dedicated to empirical legal datasets. The three datasets are:
- State Fair Housing Protections – covers all 50 states and the District of Columbia
- City Nuisance Property Ordinances – covers the 40 most populous cities in the US
- State Landlord-Tenant Laws – covers all 50 states and the District of Columbia
Each dataset is publicly available. You can explore the data using the site’s mapping tool that allows you to explore the elements of the law across jurisdictions or download the data as an excel spreadsheet without any cost. Each dataset is accompanied by a codebook, a research protocol, and a summary report.
The federal Fair Housing Act, passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibits discrimination in housing-related transactions for individuals who are members of a protected class — these include race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Forty-nine states and D.C. have adopted their own fair housing laws to expand upon these federal protections, such as prohibiting discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or source of income. These laws regulate which protected classes are included, the types of discriminatory actions that are prohibited, and when discrimination is exempt under the law.
City nuisance property ordinances require landlords to regulate the conduct of their tenants, through means such as eviction, and often penalize the landlords when they fail to do so effectively. Although these laws were intended to target drug use, many ordinances now include a wide range of actions that the city deems to be a nuisance. Nuisance property ordinances can have consequences that significantly impact public health. For example, some ordinances consider calls to law enforcement to be nuisance activities, thus discouraging tenants from calling the police when necessary. These laws, which may force tenants to choose between calling the police in an emergency and being threatened with eviction, can have a disproportionate effect on domestic violence survivors and people with disabilities, who may have to call the police for help more often than others.
Landlord-tenant laws establish basic rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants when renting residential property. These laws govern lease agreements, maximum security deposit amounts, property maintenance requirements, and steps landlords and tenants may take if lease agreements are broken, among other elements. Laws addressing landlord and tenant rights exist mostly at the state level, but this area is also governed by federal and common law. Some states have adopted, or based in part, their landlord-tenant law on the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1972 (URLTA), which is a model law that attempts to clarify and standardize landlord-tenant law across the country. To date, all 51 jurisdictions in the United States have state-level landlord-tenant laws.
We hope you explore the datasets and find them useful! If you have any questions, please contact Abraham Gutman via email abraham(dot)gutman(at)temple(dot)edu