The Fair Housing Act
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. Additional protections apply to federally-assisted housing.
Learn about the History of the Fair Housing Act, and read Examples of the many forms of housing discrimination.
Who Is Protected?
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
- National Origin
- Familial Status
What Types of Housing Are Covered?
The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In very limited circumstances, the Act exempts 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.
What Is Prohibited?
In the Sale and Rental of Housing:
It is illegal discrimination to take any of the following actions because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Otherwise make housing unavailable
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Provide a person different housing services or facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
- Make, print or publish any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination
- Impose different sales prices or rental charges for the sale or rental of a dwelling
- Use different qualification criteria or 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
- Evict a tenant or a tenant’s guest
- Harass a person
- Fail or delay performance of maintenance or repairs
- Limit privileges, services or facilities of a dwelling
- Discourage the purchase or rental of a dwelling
- Assign a person to a particular building or neighborhood or section of a building or neighborhood
- For profit, persuade, or try to persuade, homeowners to sell their homes by suggesting that people of a particular protected characteristic are about to move into the neighborhood (blockbusting)
- Refuse to provide or discriminate 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
- Deny access to or membership in any multiple listing service or real estate brokers’ organization
For more information and examples, visit Examples of Housing Discrimination.
In Mortgage Lending:
It is illegal discrimination to take any of the following actions based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin:
- Refuse to make a mortgage loan or provide other financial assistance for a dwelling
- 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 a dwelling
- Condition the availability of a loan on a person’s response to harassment
- Refuse to purchase a loan
For more information about discrimination in mortgage lending, visit Fair Lending.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to harass persons because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Among other things, this forbids sexual harassment. Learn more about sexual harassment here.
In addition, it is illegal discrimination to:
- Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise the right
- Retaliate against a person who has filed a fair housing complaint or assisted in a fair housing investigation
For more information about advertising and the Fair Housing Act, visit Advertising and Marketing.
Additional Protections For 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. Get more information about reasonable accommodation here.
Certain multifamily housing must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Get more information here.