News & Blog

Hate Acts and the Fair Housing Act

Illustration of a red house with the scales of justice in the foreground

What is the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing related transactions based on a person’s protected class membership. More information on the Fair Housing Act and its coverage can be found here.

What are Hate Acts?

Any act that threatens, coerces, intimidates, or injures persons or their property because of a bias against the victim due to the victim’s:

  • Race/color
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Ethnic Background
  • Physical or Mental Disability
  • Familial Status, or
  • Perception of Class Membership

What are Housing Related Hate Acts?

Any act that threatens, coerces, intimidates, or injures one asserting a legal right to equal housing choice because of class bias.

Such acts may include:

  • Violent Acts, such as murder, arson, or assault
  • Non-violent Acts, such as racial slurs or harassing phone calls

What Laws Protect Individuals for Housing Related Hate Acts?

The Fair Housing Act makes it a violation of federal law to engage in housing related hate acts based upon the victim’s protected class status.

The Fair Housing Act also allows for criminal sanctions against an individual for the use or attempted use of force to injure, intimidate, or interfere with another due to the victim’s protected class status.

In addition to the Fair Housing Act, there are other laws, both state and federal, that prohibit hate acts, and may be used to pursue a case for housing related hate acts.

These laws include:

  • 42 U.S.C. § 1981
  • 42 U.S.C. § 1982
  • 42 U.S.C. § 1983
  • 42 U.S.C. § 1985
  • 42 U.S.C. § 1986
  • 18 U.S.C. § 241
  • 18 U.S.C. § 242
  • 18 U.S.C. § 245
  • 18 U.S.C. § 844 (H)
  • T.C.A. § 4-21-601
  • T.C.A. § 4-21-701
  • T.C.A. § 39-17-309
  • T.C.A. § 40-35-114

What are Some Indicators that an Act may be a Hate Act

  • Admission by the Accused
  • Analysis of the Facts to Infer Intent
  • Demographic Background of the Victim and Accused
  • Knowledge of Victim’s Minority Status
  • Remarks of the Perpetrator
  • Graffiti, Slogans used by the Perpetrator
  • Prior Contact between the Victim and Accused
  • Dress of Victim
  • Location and Timing of the Event
  • Witness Accounts

Hate Act Statistics                          

Statistics are maintained on both the State and Federal level and are published annually.

As with any statistics, the date that comes out is only as good as the date that went into the analysis.  Therefore, the under-reporting of hate acts can skew the results.   

The most recent statistics released are for 2019 and indicated the following:

  • 7,314 hate crimes occurred nationally, with 8,812 victims
  • 121 hate crimes occurred in Tennessee, with 123 victims
  • Racial/ethnicity/ancestry bias accounted for the majority of hate crimes at both the State and Federal level, followed by Religious and Sexual Bias

More information on the Federal Statistics can be found here.

More information on the Tennessee State Statistics can be found here.

For more information on the Fair Housing Act and housing related hate acts, see our presentation.