In 1968, one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., President Lyndon B. Johnson approved the civil rights campaign against housing discrimination in the US. Part of this Civil Rights Act of 1968 included the Fair Housing Act. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development enforces the Fair Housing Act which was created to protected a buyer or renter from being a victim of seller or landlord discrimination. The Fair Housing Act originally prohibited discrimination of race, color, religion, and national origin. In 1974 sex was added as an additional protected attribute. Disability, family status (presence of children under 18 in a household) were added in 1988. These protected characteristics can come into play during the sale or rental of a home along with the lending process.
The hud.gov website, referenced below, has one of the best breakdowns for what is prohibited:
What Exactly Is Prohibited?
In the Sale and Rental of Housing:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Otherwise make housing unavailable
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Provide a person different housing services or facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
- Make, print or publish any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination
- Impose different sales prices or rental charges for the sale or rental of a dwelling
- Use different qualification criteria or applications, or sale or rental standards or procedures, such as income standards, application requirements, application fees, credit analyses, sale or rental approval procedures or other requirements
- Evict a tenant or a tenant’s guest
- Harass a person
- Fail or delay performance of maintenance or repairs
- Limit privileges, services or facilities of a dwelling
- Discourage the purchase or rental of a dwelling
- Assign a person to a particular building or neighborhood or section of a building or neighborhood
- For profit, persuade, or try to persuade, homeowners to sell their homes by suggesting that people of a particular protected characteristic are about to move into the neighborhood (blockbusting)
- Refuse to provide or discriminate in the terms or conditions of homeowners insurance because of the race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin of the owner and/or occupants of a dwelling
- Deny access to or membership in any multiple listing service or real estate brokers’ organization
For more information and examples, visit Examples of Housing Discrimination.
In Mortgage Lending:
It is illegal discrimination to take any of the following actions based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin:
- Refuse to make a mortgage loan or provide other financial assistance for a dwelling
- 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 a dwelling
- Condition the availability of a loan on a person’s response to harassment
- Refuse to purchase a loan
For more information about discrimination in mortgage lending, visit Fair Lending.
*There are also protections concerning harassment, retaliation or threats towards someone who is exercising their rights. Along with guidelines and restrictions regarding advertising and disabilities (with regards to accessibility).
If you feel like you have cause to file a complaint the best place to do that is: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint
It's always best to air on the side of caution when renting or selling your property. Im here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org