Fair Housing Act-Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.

  1. When Was the Fair Housing Law Created?

Attempts at fair housing in America have been around since the mid-1800s, but it was not until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s that any real change took place. The Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were two of the first attempts to address discrimination. The real groundbreaking legislation, however, was the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which was established one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. Who is protected under the Fair Housing Act?

The seven classes of people protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act are:

  1. Color
  2. Disability
  3. Familial Status (having children under 18 in a household, including pregnant women)
  4. National Origin
  5. Race
  6. Religion
  7. Sex
  1. How does this act protect ME?

The Federal Fair Housing Act has a three-part goal:

  • In Home Renting and Selling:

To end discrimination against the protected classes in any of the following ways:

    • Refusing to rent housing, sell housing or negotiate for housing.
    • Making housing unavailable or lying about the availability of housing.
    • Denying housing.
    • Establishing different terms or conditions in home selling or renting.
    • Providing different housing accommodations or amenities.
    • Blockbusting is a method of manipulating homeowners to sell or rent their homes at a lower price by falsely convincing them that racial, religious or other minorities are moving into their once segregated neighborhood
    • Denying participation in housing related services (such as a Multiple Listing Service)).
  • In Mortgage Lending:

To end discrimination against the protected classes in any of the following ways:

    • Refusing to make or purchase a mortgage loan.
    • Setting different terms or conditions on the loan, such as interest rates or fees.
    • Setting different requirements for purchasing a loan.
    • Refusing to make information about the loan available.
    • Discriminatory practices in property appraising.
  • It Is Also Illegal to:
    • Make discriminatory statements or advertise your property indicating a preference for a person with a certain background or excluding a protected class. This applies to those who are otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act, such as owner-occupied four unit homes.
    • Threaten or interfere with anyone’s fair housing rights.
  1. 5. Does Everyone Have to Follow Fair Housing Law?

In certain cases, the following groups may be exempt from following Fair Housing:

  • Single family homes that are rented or sold without using a broker.
  • Owner-occupied homes with no more than four units.
  • Members-only private clubs or organizations.
  1. Who Enforces the Fair Housing Act?

The of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act.

They enforce the Act in two ways:

  1. Fair Housing Testers– HUD hires people to pose as renters or home buyers to see if discriminatory practices are being used.
  2. Investigate Discrimination Claims– Individuals who feel their fair housing rights have been violated under the Fair Housing Act can file a discrimination claim with HUD. HUD will investigate the claim, determine if there is any merit to it and decide if further legal action is necessary.


Treating an individual differently because they belong to a certain class of people is not only wrong, it is illegal. When it comes to any activity that relates to housing, all classes of people must be treated equally.

“The Basics of the Federal Fair Housing Act.” By Erin Eberlin – 2018 http://www.fairhousingfirst.org/faq.asp https://www.hud.gov/states/shared/working/r10/fh/questions https://www.ada.gov/doj_hud_statement.pdf