Fair Housing ACT Facts Last Updated: Wednesday April 10 2013
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of: (Español)

Race or color
National origin
Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)

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 organization 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 (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) 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 Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on 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 a 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 air housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation of preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. 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, cancer, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Have a record of such disability, or

Are regarded as having such a disability your landlord may not:

Refuse to let you make reasonable modification 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.

Requirements for New Buildings:

In buildings that are ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator of four or more units:

Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs

All units must have:

An accessible route into and through the unit
Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls
Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars and
Kitchen and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs

If a building with four or more units has no elevator and will be ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units.

These requirements for new buildings do not replace any more stringent standards in State or local law.

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 parent
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 person 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 residents on or before September 13, 1988 to continue living in the housing, regardless of their age, without interfering with the exemption.

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