HUD has played a lead role in administering the Fair Housing Act since its adoption in 1968.
What Housing Is Covered?
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.
What Is Prohibited?
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 or facilities
•Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
•For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
•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 preference 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.
Additional Protection if You Have a Disability
If you or someone associated with you:
•Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
•Have a record of such a disability or
•Are regarded as having such a disability
your landlord may not:
•Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
•Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.
Housing Opportunities for Families
Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:
•A person who has legal custody of the child or children or
•The designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian's written permission.
Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.
Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
•The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program or
•It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or
•It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.
A transition period permits residents on or before September 13, 1988, to continue living in the housing, regardless of their age, without interfering with the exemption.
HUD is ready to help with any problem of housing discrimination. If you think your rights have been violated, the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form is available for you to download, complete and return, or complete online and submit, or you may write HUD a letter, or telephone the HUD Office nearest you. You have one year after an alleged violation to file a complaint with HUD, but you should file it as soon as possible.
For Further Information:
The Fair Housing Act and HUD's regulations contain more detail and technical information. If you need a copy of the law or regulations, contact the HUD Office nearest you.