Discrimination unfortunately has a foothold in many aspects of life. This even includes the process of leasing real estate.
However, the federal Fair Housing Act exists to protect potential tenants from discrimination, providing a clear guideline to landlords on how to avoid discriminatory actions and behaviors.
What is illegal under the Fair Housing Act?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development discusses the impact of the Fair Housing Act. This makes it illegal for landlords to refuse to provide a rental space to someone based on their skin color, race, national origin, sex, religion, familial status or their disabilities, so long as they are otherwise qualified to rent.
This act protects most housing situations. Some narrow exemptions exist for housing situations such as any owner-occupied premise with four units or less, houses maintained by religious organizations, housing run by private clubs, or single-family homes rented without an agent.
Illegal discrimination, as defined by this act, includes making housing unavailable, refusing to rent a property, or lying about available housing to claim that it is not available. Additionally, landlords cannot advertise their property in ways that show discrimination, limitations or preferences.
Landlords also cannot impose a difference in rental charges based on protected classes, nor may they use different qualification criteria for different people.
Both landlords and tenants should understand their respective duties and protections under this act. If a landlord fails to meet the act’s requirements, they may face serious legal repercussions along with a potentially tarnished reputation that could affect their ability to rent in the future.