Complaints filed with HUD, the enforcer of the Fair Housing Act, are assigned to an investigator in the Federal Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). The investigator contacts both parties to obtain more information. The investigator then attempts to get the party that caused the discrimination to make changes and settle with the person who was discriminated against. This is called the conciliation phase. If the parties cannot agree, the FHEO determines if an illegal housing practice has occurred.
In a case where there is an illegal housing practice, HUD will issue a Federal Charge of Discrimination. This charge will go before an administrative law judge who works for HUD. If that judge determines that discrimination occurred, the person discriminated against can be compensated for actual damages, pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, court costs, and get the housing denied. In addition, the person charged with discrimination is subject to both fines and jail time.
You may want to have your case heard in federal court instead of before an administrative law judge. If you win in federal court, you can still get all the above compensation. The decision of the administrative and federal courts can be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals.