The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing in the United States because of:
· Race or color
· National origin
· Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)
· Handicap (disability)
What Type of Housing Is Covered?
The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.
What Is Prohibited?
In the Sale and Rental of Housing: It is illegal to take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability:
· Refusal to rent or sell housing
· Refusal to negotiate for housing
· Making housing unavailable
· Denying a dwelling
· Setting different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
· Providing different housing services or facilities
· Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
· For profit, persuading owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
· Denying anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.
In Mortgage Lending: It is illegal to take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability:
· Refuse to make a mortgage loan
· Refuse to provide information regarding loans
· Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
· Discriminate in appraising property
· Refuse to purchase a loan or set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.
In addition, it is illegal for anyone to:
· Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
· Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
Fair Housing Protections for People with Disabilities
If you or someone in your family:
· Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
· Have a record of such a disability or
· Are regarded as having such a disability
Your housing provider may not:
· Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
· Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
Example: A building with a "no pets" policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.
Example: An apartment complex that offers tenants unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.
However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.
Requirements for New Buildings
In buildings that are ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator and four or more units:
· Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
· Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
All units must have:
· An accessible route into and through the unit
· Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls
· Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars and
· Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
If a building with four or more units has no elevator and will be ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units.
These requirements for new buildings do not replace any more stringent standards in State or local law.
More Information about Federal Fair Housing
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal fair housing laws. The primary federal fair housing law is the Fair Housing Act. For more information about federal fair housing visit our Resources page.