What Is Fair Housing?#
All persons are entitled equal access to housing.
Fair housing laws were enacted to provide equal housing opportunities. It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of a person's protected class in the sale, rental or financing of housing.
The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities.
Who is protected?
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
- National Origin
- Sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation)
- Familial Status
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.
In the Sale and Rental of Housing#
No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Make housing unavailable
- Deny a dwelling
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Provide different housing services of facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
- For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent
- Deny 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 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 preferences based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
The mission of the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities by leading the nation in the enforcement, administration, development, and public understanding of federal fair housing policies and laws.