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Fair Housing Information for Housing Providers

THE FAIR HOUSING ACT


Introduction?
What Housing is Covered?  
Fair Housing Act provides protection for Immigrants
What is Prohibited?
Prohibition against Discriminatory Advertising
Definition of Disability
Prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities
Requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities
Where Should a Person Write or Call?

 

THE FAIR HOUSING ACT

Introduction?

You may be a first time housing provider. This fact sheet provides some basic information about a housing provider’s responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act. The federal Fair Housing Act generally prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, gender, and disability. The Fair Housing Act ensures that all persons receive equal housing opportunity.

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.

The Fair Housing Act Provides protection for Immigrants

Fair Housing Act protects all people against prohibited discrimination, regardless of their legal status in the United States. In addition, the Act expressly prohibits discrimination because of national origin.

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 disability:

  • 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)
  • 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 mortgage lending, no one may take any of the following actions on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability:
    • Refuse to make a mortgage loan;
    • 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 property;
    • Refuse to purchase a loan; or
    • Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan

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 on the basis of 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.

Prohibition Against Discriminatory Advertising

It is unlawful to make, print, or publish any statement, in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling, that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status, or national origin. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Example: A housing provider posts an advertisement in the newspaper that states that s/he does not rent to Blacks or families with children.

The Fair Housing Act provides additional protections for individuals with disabilities.

Definition of Disability

Federal laws define a person with a disability as "Any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment."In general, a physical or mental impairment includes 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. Major life activities include walking, talking, hearing, seeing, breathing, learning, performing manual tasks, and caring for oneself.

Prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities

It is unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to rent or sell to a person simply because of a disability. A housing provider may not impose different application or qualification criteria, rental fees or sales prices, and rental or sales terms or conditions than those required of or provided to persons who are not disabled.

Example: A housing provider may not refuse to rent to an otherwise qualified individual with a mental disability because s/he is uncomfortable with the individual's disability. Such an act would violate the Fair Housing Act because it denies a person housing solely on the basis of their disability.

Requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities

A reasonable accommodation is a change in rules, policies, practices, or services so that a person with a disability will have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit or common space. A housing provider should do everything s/he can to assist, but s/he is not required to make changes that would fundamentally alter the program or create an undue financial and administrative burden. Reasonable accommodations may be necessary at all stages of the housing process, including application, tenancy, or to prevent eviction.

Example: A housing provider would make a reasonable accommodation for a tenant with mobility impairment by fulfilling the tenant's request for a reserved parking space in front of the entrance to their unit, even though all parking is unreserved.


Example: A building with a “no pets” policy would make a reasonable accommodation for a visually impaired tenant by allowing the tenant to keep a guide dog.

Where Should a Person Write or Call to file a housing discrimination complaint?

Send the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form or a letter to the HUD Office nearest you, or call the hotline number at 1-800-669-9777 (voice) or (TTY) at 1-800-927-9275.  You may also file a housing discrimination complaint online