We take fair housing laws very seriously and hope that you do too. Being discriminated against while looking for housing is rude, unfair and, fortunately, illegal. If you think a listing is advertising in a discriminatory manner, please use the “Report” button on the listing details page to bring it to our attention. We’ll review the listing, potentially cringe, and take action if appropriate.
The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying or securing financing for any type of housing. With very few exemptions (listed below), the prohibitions specifically cover discrimination based on:
- National origin
- Family status / the presence of children
Put simply, it is illegal to refuse to negotiate with or rent to someone, set different terms, provide a different service or falsely deny housing is available based on any of these protected classifications. It is also illegal to advertise, or make a statement that indicates a preference, based on any of these protected categories.
The Act differentiates between two main points when it comes to selling and renting housing:
- Decision making
The difference between the two is important to understand. In accordance with the Act there are instances when you are legally allowed to make a decision, or discriminate, based on your preference. However, you cannot advertise this preference. Situations where such exemptions may apply are discussed below.
Although the Fair Housing Act covers most housing, in some circumstances the Act may exempt:
- Owner-occupied buildings with less than four units. In situations where an owner rents a property with less than 4 units, and lives in one of the units, they may legally base their decision (discriminate) based on a gender preference, but it is illegal for them to advertise this preference.
- Housing owned by religious organizations and private clubs, where membership is NOT restricted based upon race, color, or national origin, may legally restrict tenancy to members of their organization and legally advertise this preference.
- Housing for older persons. In housing situations that:
- Are Occupied solely by persons 62 years of age or older
- OR in which 80% of the occupied units have at least one person 55 years of age or older
- AND which meet certain other requirements
This exemption is a very important one for roommates and short-term rentals where there will be “shared space” involved:
A person advertising a home in which tenants will share a bathroom, kitchen or other common area IS allowed to advertise, and base their decision on, a preference based on gender only.