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Fair Housing: Federal Laws

Fair housing laws exist to protect your right to rent, sell, or own housing without unlawful discrimination. The goal of these laws is to provide equal opportunities in housing for everyone.

This article will teach you more about federal laws prohibiting housing discrimination. There are links to the full texts of those laws. Many states have civil rights laws of their own that mirror federal laws. Your state may have fair housing or housing discrimination laws like the ones below.

Fair Housing Act

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is also known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The federal Fair Housing Act, as amended, prohibits discrimination in the following ways:

  • Sale of dwellings
  • Rental of housing
  • Financing of housing, such as mortgage lending

The Fair Housing Act protects you from discrimination in other housing-related transactions, too. Discrimination is prohibited based on the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (this includes sexual orientation and gender identity)
  • Familial status (including pregnant women, and children under 18 living with parents or custodians)
  • Marital status
  • Disability
  • Source of income

Discrimination in the housing context can look like:

  • Setting different terms or conditions on the rental of a dwelling based on an occupant's race or religion
  • Prohibiting African-American homeowners from obtaining favorable loan terms

Additional Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws

Besides the Fair Housing Act, other civil rights laws apply in the housing context. These laws apply to various protected classes. Click on any of the links below to learn more.

Even More Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws

Here you'll find links to several other anti-discrimination laws that apply to housing. Click on any of the links to learn more.

  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: Prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs, services, and activities provided or made available by public entities. HUD enforces Title II when it relates to state and local public housing. Housing providers are required to permit reasonable modifications to accommodate disabilities
  • Architectural Barriers Act of 1968: Requires that buildings and facilities designed, constructed, altered, or leased with certain federal funds after September 1969 be accessible to and useable by people with disabilities
  • Age Discrimination Act of 1975: Prohibits age discrimination in programs or activities receiving federal financial aid
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972: Prohibits sex discrimination in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance

Presidential Executive Orders Related to Fair Housing

There have been several Executive Orders throughout history relating to Fair Housing. Executive Orders are directives from the President that have the force of law. Below are various examples. Click on the links to learn more.

  • Executive Order 11063: Bars discrimination in the sale, leasing, rental, or other disposition of properties owned or operated by the federal government or receiving federal funds
  • Executive Order 12892: Requires federal agencies to take affirmative action in furtherance of fair housing. The Order also provides that the HUD Secretary will coordinate efforts. It also establishes the President's Fair Housing Council, which the HUD Secretary chairs
  • Executive Order 12898: Requires federal agencies to conduct programs, policies, and activities substantially affecting human health or the environment in a manner that doesn't exclude people based on race, color, or national origin
  • Executive Order 13166: Eliminates, to the extent possible, limited English skills as a barrier to full participation by beneficiaries in all federally-assisted and federally-conducted programs and activities
  • Executive Order 13217: Requires federal agencies to review their policies and programs to determine if any can be revised or modified to improve the availability of community-based living arrangements for people with disabilities

Talk to an Attorney About Your Discrimination Claim

Have you experienced housing discrimination on the basis of race? Have you been denied reasonable accommodations as a real estate renter? Has a lender or real estate agent engaged in racial discrimination? If your concern affects a group of people, it might be a matter of general public importance. Your state's attorney general or the Department of Justice might get involved.

Talk to an experienced attorney today to discuss filing a discrimination complaint. An attorney can inform you of federal and state laws that apply to protect your fair housing rights and guide you as a complainant. Put their expertise to work to help you file a fair housing complaint.

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