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Discrimination and property rentals

What is the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act was adopted in 1968. This Act is enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD. Amendments and additions have been made over the years to address new issues as they arise. The basic premise of the Act is the right of all individuals to have equal access to housing.

Discrimination in Housing: 

Fair Housing seeks to eliminate discrimination when it comes to the rental or sale of housing, which includes apartments and homes. The rules also apply to the mortgage lending industry. The Act prevents discrimination in sales, rentals or lending that is based on national origin, race, color, gender, religion, family status or a disability or handicap.

Exceptions to the Fair Housing Act: 

Certain forms of housing are exempt from the Act. A single-family home that is being rented or sold without broker involvement is excluded from housing rules. A building with four or fewer rental units, that is owner-occupied, is not included. Housing facilities that are owned or operated by a private club or organization can be exempt as long as all rentals are limited to members.

In 1995, the Housing for Older Persons Act, (HOPA) addressed issues with housing for those age 55 and older. This Act allows for an exemption for senior only housing when a minimum of 80 percent of the available units have at least one individual over the age of 55.

In addition to the sale, rental or financing for housing, real estate listings may not include wording that limits housing availability for protected classes. The complete details of the Fair Housing Act are complex. All real estate agents and brokers should be aware of sales and rental requirements. If you are in doubt, your agent should be able to guide you in understanding what is and is not allowed under the Act.

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