Legal Guide

What Kind of Housing Discrimination Is Illegal?

The Basics of Fair Housing Laws for Landlords

The Fair Housing Act is a law created to help limit discriminatory practices related to landlords, tenants, and housing. The main idea of the act was that every American should have equal rights and opportunities while looking for a place to live, without being afraid of discrimination due to factors outside their control. But since the first implementation of the Fair Housing Act in 1986, the world has evolved to accommodate the changing lifestyle habits.

Who Is Protected by the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on the following seven factors:

  • Color
  • Disability
  • Familial status (i.e., having children under 18 in a household, including pregnant women)
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex

Fair Housing laws prohibit the following actions:

  1. Refusing to rent to someone a rental unit because of their protected class (or lying about the availability of it).
  2. Discriminating in the terms and conditions of the rental because of a resident’s protected class.
  3. Making, printing, or publishing any notice, statement, or advertisement related to the rental that indicates any preferences, limitation, or discrimination.
  4. Fair housing laws also protect applicants and residents who live with or are associated with people in protected groups. This includes situations where a housing provider may discriminate because someone has relatives, friends, roommates, subtenants, or other associates in any of the protected categories.
  5. Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to a person with a disability. An emotional support animal (ESA), a type of assistance animal for a person with a disability that is recognized as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, should be allowed wherever any other tenants are allowed.
  6. Retaliating against a resident or applicant because he or she has asserted fair housing rights or has been a witness in a fair housing investigation.

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