Laws in a Nutshell: Fair Housing

Laws: Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and its amendments

Major provisions:

  • Makes it unlawful to discriminate in the sale or leasing of housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or handicap. Note that handicaps include physical and mental impairments, AIDS or HIV, alcoholism, or prior drug addiction. Some state laws also protect other classes, such as sexual orientation, from discrimination.
  • Exempts housing for the elderly, dwellings operated by religious organizations, and rentals in owner-occupied properties of four or fewer units (with the exception of racial discrimination, for the latter).
  • Prohibits salespeople from providing information about an area that addresses its racial, religious, or ethnic composition as a way to restrict a buyer's or renter's choices.
  • Makes it unlawful to refuse information on available financing to persons in a protected class.
  • Prohibits advertising that indicates a preference for or against any protected group (see page 24). Note that this advertising exception applies even to owner-occupied properties with four or fewer units.

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