Housing Providers

This page provides some basic information about a housing provider’s responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.  Housing providers include people in the business of renting, managing, selling, financing or providing other housing-related services. 

What Housing Is Covered?

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

The Fair Housing Act Provides Protection for Immigrants

Fair Housing Act protects all people against prohibited discrimination, regardless of their legal status in the United States. In addition, the Act expressly prohibits discrimination because of national origin.

What Is Prohibited?

In the sale and rental of housing, no one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting)
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing
  • In mortgage lending, no one may take any of the following actions on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability:
    • Refuse to make a mortgage loan;
    • Refuse to provide information regarding loans;
    • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees;
    • Discriminate in appraising property;
    • Refuse to purchase a loan; or
    • Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan

In addition, it is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right.
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Prohibition Against Discriminatory Advertising

It is unlawful to make, print, or publish any statement, in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling, that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status, or national origin. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act. 

The Fair Housing Act provides additional protections for individuals with disabilities.

Fair Housing and Accessibility

How Can I Make Sure I Don’t Discriminate?

Following a few basic steps will help you steer clear of unwarranted fair housing complaints.

  • Keep complete and accurate records.
  • Apply rules consistently to all tenants/applicants/clients.  It may be more difficult to defend against discrimination complaints if you have, in fact, applied rules more stringently to some tenants/applicants/clients than others.
  • Accommodate tenants with disabilities.
  • Watch for inadvertent violation of familial status laws. 
  • Clearly convey your commitment to Fair Housing to managers, real estate agents, and tenants.
  • Train your staff on fair housing and how their actions are impacted by such laws.
  • Remember: Retaliation is illegal. Do not allow the filing of a fair housing complaint to influence a decision to take action against a tenant.