A guide to the Fair Housing Act and its exceptions (2023)

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Everyone deserves a stable, affordable place to live. But the unfortunate truth is that housing discrimination has prevented some vulnerable groups from realizing this cornerstone of the American dream.

The good news is that there are laws that protect people from discrimination when looking for housing. One of the most important is the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Here's what the FHA covers and how you can protect yourself from discriminatory practices.

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What is the Fair Housing Act of 1968?

The Fair Housing Act is a critical set of guidelines that prevent potential homeowners and renters from being discriminated against when selling, renting, or financing their homes.

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The law was signed into law in 1968 by President Lydon Johnson after several years of efforts by policymakers to push it through to the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did not spur Congress into action.

Today, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees and enforces the Fair Housing Act. Prohibits discrimination in housing based on: race or color, national origin, religion, gender (including sexual orientation and gender identity, under the newexecutive order), family status and disability. Anyone trying to rent, buy or sell a home, take out a mortgage or receive rent allowance is protected. The law also applies to most types of housing, with a few exceptions.

How the Fair Housing Act protects against housing discrimination

Housing is a broad concept. So, who exactly is prohibited from participating in discrimination?

The FHA prohibits discrimination by:

  • Landlords
  • Property owners and managers
  • developers
  • Real estate agents
  • Mortgage lenders and brokers
  • Owners Associations
  • Insurers
  • Anyone who influences housing options

Basically, any person or entity involved in the home insurance process must follow FHA guidelines. If someone believes they have been discriminated against, they can contact the HUD, which will then investigate.

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Examples of housing discrimination

Discrimination can occur in many ways and against different classes of people. Here are some examples:

  • I sell or rent.It is illegal to refuse to sell or rent a home to anyone based on race, gender, or any other factor listed in the FHA. This includes falsely claiming that a home is no longer on the market when it is, or providing different terms or benefits to one person than another. It is also illegal to persuade homeowners to sell or rent their property on the basis that people of a certain race or protected class will move into the neighborhood with the intent to make a profit.
  • Mortgage loans.Lenders may also discriminate against mortgage loan applicants if the lender refuses to provide information about the loan, rejects the applicant altogether, or imposes other conditions (interest rates, fees, etc.) based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, marital status of the applicant. status or national origin. Similar discrimination can occur during the evaluation process.
  • Insurance for homeowners.If an insurance company refuses to provide homeowners insurance to an apartment owner or occupier because of their race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status, or national origin, it is considered discrimination. It is also discriminatory to offer different conditions or provide limited information about an insurance product based on the same factors.
  • Disability Adjustment.People with a mental or physical disability (such as a mobility impairment or a chronic mental illness) who "significantly limits one or more life activities" are entitled to specific housing. Failure to allow reasonable accommodation even at your own expense may be considered discrimination. For example, a building that normally doesn't allow pets would require visually impaired tenants to keep a service animal.
  • Advertisement.When advertising the sale or rental of residential properties, any published language that indicates preferences or restrictions based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status or national origin is discrimination. This includes advertising single-family homes and owner-occupied condos, which are otherwise exempt from the FHA.

Fair exemptions from the Housing Act

While the Fair Housing Act applies to most situations, there are some exceptions.

For example, if an apartment has four or fewer units and the owner lives in one of them, it is exempt from the FHA. However, they would not be exempt under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act unless the residence contained only two units, one of which was owner-occupied.

In addition, any single-family home sold or rented without going through a real estate agent is exempt from the FHA, so long as the owner is a private individual who owns no more than three such homes at any one time. Again, they would not be exempt in the state of Pennsylvania due to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Senior housing communities are also exempt from the FHA in most cases. In order not to violate the family situation provision, he must meet one of the following conditions. For example, HUD must have determined that it is specifically designed for older renters and that they live in it under a federal, state, or local government program. Alternatively, it can be 100% occupied by people aged 62 or over.

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Another possibility is that the municipality houses at least one person aged 55 or older in at least 80% of the inhabited units. The property must also have a policy stating the community's intent to accommodate people 55 or older.

Finally, religious organizations and private clubs may give preference to members as long as they do not discriminate against their membership.

How fair housing laws are enforced

HUD is the federal agency charged with implementing and enforcing the Fair Housing Act. It does this through its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 10 U.S. regional offices. The purpose of these offices is to enforce FHA compliance, administer fair housing programs, and educate consumers.

FHEO primarily implements fair housing programs by funding outside organizations. For example,Fair Housing Initiatives Programgrants private organizations that investigate complaints and even puts people undercover to track down FHA violations.

How to protect yourself from fair housing violations

If you believe that your rights under the Fair Housing Act have been violated, it is important that you file a complaint immediately. HUD investigates claims made within one year of the violation.
When making a complaint, please be sure to provide the following information:

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  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the person or company against whom your complaint is directed (also known as the defendant)
  • Address or other identification of the supplied enclosure
  • The date and brief description of the incident that led to the violation of your rights

You can submit a complaint online to the FHEOHUD Form 903. You can also downloadthis shapeand by email to a local addressUred FHEO. You can also send a letter by post or call the office directly.

Upon receipt and acceptance of your appeal, HUD will notify you in writing. It will also notify the defendant that you have filed a complaint and give them some time to file a written response. The FHEO will investigate your complaint and decide whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant has violated the FHA. In addition, HUD offers you and the Respondent the opportunity to resolve the complaint voluntarily through a Settlement Agreement.

If a violation of rights is determined and you fail to reach an agreement with the defendant, you may need to consult an attorney and determine next steps.


Which of the following is an exception to the Fair Housing Act? ›

An owner of a single-family home that is rented without the use of a real estate agent or a management company are exempt from the federal Fair Housing Act as long as the private landlord/owner doesn't own more than three homes at the time. This includes the home the owner lives in plus any additional homes.

What are the most common fair housing violations? ›

  • The 10 Most Common Fair Housing Mistakes and How to Prevent Them.
  • Failure to Keep Records: ...
  • Inconsistency in the Application of Rules: ...
  • Retaliation: ...
  • Having an All-Adult Complex: ...
  • Violation of Familial Status Laws out of Concerns for Safety: ...
  • Failure to Reasonably Accommodate a Tenant with a Disability:

What is the Fair Housing Act quizlet? ›

The Fair Housing Act is a federal act in the United States intended to protect the buyer or renter of a dwelling from seller or landlord discrimination. Its primary prohibition makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent to, or negotiate with any person because of that person's inclusion in a protected class.

What does the Federal Fair Housing Act cover ______? ›

The Fair Housing Act prohibits this discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability.

What does the Fair Housing Act not apply to quizlet? ›

The federal Fair Housing Act applies to all of the following residential real estate transactions, EXCEPT: the sale or rental of a single-family home by its owner if not represented by a real estate agent and no discriminatory advertising is used.

Which best describes occupancy limits according to the Fair Housing Amendments Act? ›

Some states such as California have laws that state that "2 persons plus one" is the occupancy standard that should be used..

What are the 7 personal characteristics that are protected by the Fair Housing Act? ›

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to harass persons because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, familial status, or national origin. Among other things, this forbids sexual harassment. Learn more about sexual harassment here.

What are real examples of housing discrimination? ›

For example, a landlord who refuses to make repairs for tenants of a certain race. Harassment due to any protected basis. For example, a landlord who makes unwelcome sexual advances on a tenant or who uses racial slurs and insults to demean tenants because of their race.

What is the most common basis for fair housing complaints according to the National Fair Housing Alliance? ›

Cases alleging discrimination because of disability continue to account for the largest number of complaints, at 53.68 percent. Discrimination based on disability is usually obvious, making it easier to detect and more practical to file a complaint.

Which of the following is not protected under the federal Fair Housing Act? ›

The Fair Housing Act affords no protections to individuals with or without disabilities who present a direct threat to the persons or property of others.

When a person has suffered a violation of the fair housing law they have ______ months to file a claim? ›

(i) An aggrieved person may, not later than one year after an alleged discriminatory housing practice has occurred or terminated, file a complaint with the Secretary alleging such discriminatory housing practice.

What is another name for the Fair Housing Act? ›

Fair Housing Act, also called Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, U.S. federal legislation that protects individuals and families from discrimination in the sale, rental, financing, or advertising of housing.

How do I file a complaint against local housing authority? ›

You can speak with an FHEO intake specialist by calling 1-800-669-9777 or TTY: 1-800-877-8339.

Why did the Fair Housing Act fail? ›

The Fair Housing Act has the potential to be one of the most powerful laws in the country, but its effectiveness has been stymied by entrenched policies and practices that perpetuate discrimination and segregation; ineffective enforcement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of ...

What can a federal judge award in a fair housing lawsuit? ›

If the Federal Court decides in your favor, a Judge or jury may order the following relief: Compensation for actual damages, including out-of-pocket expenses and emotional distress damages. Permanent injunctive relief, such as an order not to discriminate.

What is an example of discrimination based on familial status? ›

Examples of Familial Status Discrimination

Refusing to rent to families with children. Evicting families once a child joins the family through, e.g., birth, adoption, custody. Requiring families with children to live on specific floors or in specific buildings or areas.

Which of the following best defines a reasonable accommodation? ›

Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.

Which statement correctly identifies a federal fair housing law and what it addresses? ›

Which statement correctly identifies a federal fair housing law and what it addresses? Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and religion.

Which of the following is a protected class of person under federal fair housing laws? ›

The seven federally protected classes are race, religion, national origin, color, familial status, sex, and disability. These classes or characteristics are protected under the federal Fair Housing Act.

What family can consist of for the purpose of the Fair Housing Act? ›

Familial Status Housing Discrimination

All families with children are protected by the FHA against familial status discrimination, including single-parent households and same-sex couples with children.

Which of the following is true regarding occupancy restrictions? ›

an affirmation of the agreement between brokers. Which of the following is TRUE regarding occupancy restrictions? Housing providers may not develop occupancy restrictions on their own.

What are the 15 protected characteristics? ›

Protected characteristics

These are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

What are the 4 protected characteristics? ›

race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin. religion or belief. sex. sexual orientation.

What is not a protected class? ›

For example, none of the following traits are specifically federally-protected classes: Education Level. Undocumented Immigrants. Criminal Record. Political Party.

What is property discrimination? ›

What is housing discrimination? Housing discrimination is the illegal practice of treating or behaving differently (ie, discriminating) toward buyers or renters of dwellings based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, family status or disability.

What is an example of income discrimination? ›

Examples & Warning Signs of Source of Income Discrimination

Refusing to rent to an individual who is receiving public benefits, or refusing to use all regular and verifiable income in determining whether an applicant meets minimum income requirements.

Which of the following is a potential fair housing violation? ›

Refusal to rent, sell, or negotiate for housing, or otherwise make housing unavailable. Providing different terms, conditions, privileges, or provision of services or facilities. Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental.

What would be an example of making what the Fair Housing Act refers to as reasonable accommodations? ›

General Examples of Reasonable Accommodations and Reasonable Modifications. Permitting an assistance animal in a "no pets” building for a person who is deaf, blind, has seizures, or has a mental disability.

What is the most common complaint filed with CRD involves? ›

While the California Labor Commissioner's Office hears mostly disputes involving wage and hour claims, the CRD's most common complaints involve employment discrimination and harassment.

Which of the following is not an exemption to the federal fair housing laws concerning age and family status? ›

Which of the following is not an exemption to the federal fair housing laws concerning age and family status? In a retirement community if 70% of the dwellings have one person who is 55 years of age or older, provided there are amenities for elderly residents.

What is the fair housing Amendment Act of 1988? ›

The Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) was signed into law on September 13, 1988 and became effective on March 12, 1989. The Act amended Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in housing sales, rentals or financing.

What is evidence of guilt of a fair housing violation? ›

Failure to display the Fair Housing poster as required by law; The failure to display a Fair Housing poster could be considered as an evidence of guilt.

Is lack of an equal housing opportunity poster prima facie evidence in a federal fair housing case against the broker? ›

display a HUD Equal Opportunity poster: Failure to display the Equal Opportunity logo and Poster is considered by the courts as prima facie evidence of discrimination on the part of the broker or lender if the broker faces charges of discrimination.

What is the public law 90 284? ›

(2) Public Law 90–284, which is the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3601–3620). In accordance with the Fair Housing Act, the Secretary requires that grantees administer all programs and activities related to housing and community development in a manner to affirmatively further the policies of the Fair Housing Act.

What are the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act of 1968? ›

The 1968 Act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. Title VIII of the Act is also known as the Fair Housing Act (of 1968).

What is Title 8 of the Civil Rights Act? ›

Subject to certain specified limitations, Title VIII, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, forbids discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status (families with children under age 18), national origin, or handicap in the sale, rental, advertising, or financing of housing.

Who oversees the local housing authority? ›

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is the Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America's housing needs, that improve and develop the Nation's communities, and enforce fair housing laws.

What a landlord Cannot do in Florida? ›

Florida law prohibits landlords from evicting tenants without going through the court system (self-help evictions). Your landlord can't evict you without a judge's order. And if the sheriff shows up to evict you, he also must have a court order. The only exception to this is if you have legally abandoned your place.

Can a tenant call code enforcement in Florida? ›

Based on the above-stated law, a Florida landlord cannot threaten a Florida eviction if a tenant files a complaint with the local code enforcement agency as long as the complaint has been made in “good faith.” In this circumstance, good faith means that the Florida tenant has sufficient evidence and documentation of ...

How did the Housing Act of 1949 fail? ›

While envisioned to address the national housing shortage by transitioning families from so-called “slums and firetraps” into safer public housing, the Act failed to recognize the cost of destroying the well-established communities in which these families lived.

Was the federal housing Act a success or failure? ›

Among its many achievements, FHA modernized the American mortgage system, improved the quality of the nation's housing stock, prevented millions of Americans from losing their homes, allowed millions more to purchase their first home, and financed the construction of millions of modestly priced rental units.

What is the maximum amount of civil damages HUD may impose for violating the fair housing laws under the 1988 amendments? ›

Non-economic damages for humiliation, mental anguish or other psychological injuries may also be levied. In cases tried before a HUD Administrative Law Judge, civil penalties of up to $16,000 for a first violation, increasing to $65,000 for third violations, may be imposed.

What is the criteria for a case to be heard in federal court? ›

In order for a federal court to hear a suit originally, the action must concern some federal law (federal question jurisdiction), or it must be between citizens of different states – with at least one plaintiff suing for $75,000 or more (diversity jurisdiction).

Which of these are exempt from the federal Fair Housing Act quizlet? ›

Which of the following is exempt from the Federal Fair Housing Act? The Federal Fair Housing Act applies to residential properties, not commercial or industrial properties. The federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or familial status.

Which entity does not help enforce the Fair Housing Act? ›

Which entity does NOT help enforce the Fair Housing Act? The answer is Fannie Mae. Fair housing laws are enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Justice (DOJ), state and local fair housing enforcement agencies, and through private lawsuits in federal and state courts.

What are the fair housing laws in NC? ›

The North Carolina Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in housing because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical or mental handicaps, or family status (families with children). The law applies to the sale, rental and financing of residential housing.

What are the fair housing laws in NYC? ›

It is unlawful to discriminate based on certain protected characteristics, which include, but are not limited to: race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, age, disability, marital status, lawful source of income or familial status.

Which of these is not permitted under the federal Fair Housing Act? ›

Which of these is NOT permitted under the federal Fair Housing Act? The answer is the owner of a 20-unit residential apartment building rents to white men only. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and familial status.

Which of the following is also known as the Fair Housing Act? ›

Title VIII of the Act is also known as the Fair Housing Act (of 1968). The enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968 came only after a long and difficult journey.

Who is responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act quizlet? ›

The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). purpose of fheo is to administrate and enforce the law.

What are the exemptions from the Fair Housing Act in NC? ›

The following are properties that are exempt from the provisions of the act: Housing is operated by religious organizations. Single-family houses are rented or sold by an owner without the services of an agent. Owner-occupied buildings with at most 4 units.

Who enforces fair housing in NC? ›

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the main federal agency responsible for enforcing the federal Fair Housing Act.

What rights do I have as a tenant in North Carolina? ›

The rights of North Carolina tenants include the right to fair housing, security deposit protections, freedom from landlord retaliation and rights for victims of domestic violence.

Can a landlord deny an emotional support animal in NY? ›

A. Yes. Housing providers, including shelters and other forms of temporary or supportive housing, must permit residents to keep emotional support animals as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, unless it would cause an undue hardship to the housing provider.

What are the human rights in housing in NYC? ›

Specifically, the New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in housing based on actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, uniformed service, marital status, partnership status, alienage or citizenship status of any person or group of persons, or ...

What is the New York State Human Rights Law? ›

The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of "age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status or disability" in employment, housing, education, credit, and access to public accommodations.


1. Get the Facts On Fair Housing
(North Carolina Housing Finance Agency)
2. S02, E09. What Landlords Are Excluded from Federal Fair Housing Act?
3. Fair Housing Exemptions Video
(Denise Evans)
4. Fair Housing Act: Frequently Asked Questions
(Mid-Atlantic ADA Center)
5. Real Estate Exam Prep. Massachusetts Fair Housing Laws, protected categories and exemptions.
(Champion Real Estate Academy of MA. )
6. What Does the Fair Housing Act Say About Emotional Support Animals? - Episode 15
(The Fair Housing Institute)


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