As per the Federal Housing Act of 1968 and the Federal Fair Housing Act Amendment Act of 1988, discrimination on the basis of protected categories – race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, or age, including families with children under the age of 18, and pregnant women, disability, or handicap, or sex, is prohibited.
The Federal Fair Housing Acts apply to all aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship. Under the Acts, a landlord may not:
- Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, religion, or any other protected category.
- Falsely deny that a rental unit is available.
- Set more restrictive standards for selecting tenants or refuse to rent to members of certain groups.
- Before or during the tenancy, set different terms, conditions, or privileges for rental of a dwelling unit, like requiring larger deposits of some tenants or adopting an inconsistent policy of responding to late rent payments.
- Terminate a tenancy for a discriminatory reason.
Federal law also prohibits discrimination against people who:
- Have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including but not limited to, hearing or mobility, or visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, mental illness, intellectual disability, being HIV-positive, having AIIDS or AIDS-related complex.
- Have a history or record of such a disability.
- Are regarded by others to have such a disability.
There are some rentals that are not covered by the Federal Fair Housing laws. They include:
- Owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer rental units.
- Single-family housing rented without the use of advertising or without a real estate broker, as long as the landlord owns, no more than three such homes at any one time.
- Certain types of housing are operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to their own member.
- Housing is reserved exclusively for senior citizens.
However, many state fair housing laws cover properties or situations that are exempt under federal law.
Guidance On Fair Housing Laws
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