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How the Fair Housing Act affects you


The Fair Housing Act protects individuals’ fair housing rights from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance or engaging in other housing-related activities. Additional protections apply to federally-assisted housing.

Discrimination and Prohibited Actions: 

The Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status
  • Disability

Most types of housing are covered by the Act. Exemptions include limited circumstances such as owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent and housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

Prohibited Actions That Impact Your Fair Housing Rights

It is illegal discrimination to take any of the following actions because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin when it comes to renting or selling a home:

  • Refusal to rent or sell housing
  • Refusal to negotiate for housing
  • Otherwise making housing unavailable
  • Setting different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Providing a person different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
  • Making, printing or publishing any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination
  • Imposing different sales prices or rental charges for the sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Using different qualification criteria for applications, or sale or rental standards or procedures, such as income standards, application requirements, application fees, credit analyses, sale or rental approval procedures or other requirements
  • Evicting a tenant or a tenant’s guest
  • Harassing a person
  • Failing to perform or delaying performance of maintenance or repairs
  • Limiting privileges, services or facilities of a dwelling
  • Discouraging the purchase or rental of a dwelling
  • Assigning a person to a particular building or neighborhood or section of a building or neighborhood
  • For profit, persuading, or trying to persuade, homeowners to sell their homes by suggesting that people of a particular protected characteristic are about to move into the neighborhood (blockbusting)
  • Refusal to provide or discriminating in the terms or conditions of homeowners insurance because of the race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin of the owner and/or occupants of a dwelling
  • Denying access to or membership in any multiple listing service or real estate brokers’ organization

In mortgage lending, the following actions affecting your fair housing rights are prohibited:

  • Refusal to make a mortgage loan or provide other financial assistance for a dwelling
  • Refusal to provide information regarding loans
  • Imposing different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points or fees
  • Discriminating in appraising a dwelling
  • Conditioning the availability of a loan on a person’s response to harassment
  • Refusal to purchase a loan

Harassment, Disabilities and Other Prohibitions

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to harass persons based on these protected characteristics. Among other things, this forbids sexual harassment.

The Act also protects the fair housing rights of persons with disabilities. Housing providers must make reasonable accommodations and allow reasonable modifications that may be necessary to allow persons with disabilities to enjoy their housing. Certain multifamily housing must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

In addition, threatening, coercing, intimidating or otherwise interfering with anyone exercising their fair housing rights or assisting others who exercise their rights counts as discrimination. Retaliating against someone who has filed a fair housing complaint or assisted in an investigation also falls under this label.


If you believe you have been discriminated against in your efforts to find housing, reach out to us today. Our attorneys will be able to guide you to the best resources for your situation, including providing legal counsel and representation, if appropriate. Any help you may receive from us is completely free to you.