In this Guide
The Fair Housing laws, created in 1968 and included in Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, basically prohibit any discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, religion or familial status in the sale, rental and financing of real-estate transactions. The goal of the Fair Housing laws is to create a housing market where the merits of the buyer/renter’s financial position are used to make housing decisions instead of their personal background.
It is unlawful for a landlord to:
- Refuse to rent a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
- Discriminate based on race, color, religion or national origin in the terms, conditions or privilege of the sale or rental of a dwelling.
- Advertise the rental of a dwelling indicating preference of discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin.
- Coerce, threaten, intimidate, or interfer with a person’s enjoyment or exercise of housing rights based on discriminatory reasons or retaliate against a person or organization that aids or encourages the exercise or enjoyment of fair housing rights.
Every landlord must know all antidiscrimination laws Federally and in their local area. Choosing to ignore these laws can lead to long and expensive lawsuits or heavy penalties, so it’s important to be aware of them.
You’re exempt from the Federal Fair Housing laws if your property is:
- An owner-occupied building with four or fewer units.
- A single-family housing unit rented without the use of discriminatory advertising or without a broker.
- One of certain types of housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to their membership.
- Housing reserved exclusively for senior citizens that is occupied solely by persons 62 years of age or older or households with at least one person 55 years of age or older.
Your property may still need to adhere to state and local laws, so be sure to check your state to see if these laws are contradicted anywhere.
To get an exact copy of your state’s fair housing and anti-discrimination laws, you can visit the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development website. You can find information specific to your state in their state info page.