Fair Housing and Discrimination

Everyone in the United States has an equal right to obtain housing. No decision shall be based on the color of one’s skin or their ethnic background when completing a housing application, looking for a home, or obtaining financing.

Much of this is a result of Title VIII of the “Civil Rights Act of 1968”, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, religion, color, and national origin (sexual discrimination was added to this list in 1974). This legislation was led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, otherwise known as HUD.

The law was later expanded with the “1988 Fair Housing Amendments Act” which prevented housing discrimination towards “disabled people”, pregnant women, and familial status.

In other words, “adult-only” designations were banned (except for select senior housing communities), as well as discrimination towards families with children, and discrimination towards anyone with a mental or physical handicap, including those with life-threatening diseases.

Under these laws, the following practices are prohibited:


Induced selling results after claims that the possible entrance of a minority group will increase crime rates or reduce the value of properties in a given community.

Discriminatory Advertising

It is illegal to advertise a property indicating a certain preference in race or gender, etc, as well as advertising which excludes a particular group. Check out this link for a list of advertising words and phrases listed as acceptable, cautionary, and non-acceptable.

Financing and Selling Discrimination

It is illegal to take part in discriminatory sales and/or provide discriminatory financing terms, or to discriminate access to the MLS. Discrimination by mortgage brokers towards potential clients is also prohibited, including discrimination involving the appraisal of a piece of property.

Retaliatory Acts

It is against the law to retaliate against those who make fair-housing complaints, or intimidate them as a means to prevent them from reporting discriminatory acts.

Refusal to Show, Rent, or Sell

It is illegal to refuse to show, rent, or sell a particular property based on discrimination alone. Additionally, a property may not be falsely listed as “not available” to deter a certain person or group.


The outright refusal to extend credit, lend, sell, or provide insurance to people in a given area. Usually high-risk, geographical areas such as crime-ridden inner-cities are avoided completely despite the fact that individual clients may be qualified.


The act of directing particular groups toward or away from certain housing areas based upon their race, gender, ethnicity, etc. An example would be a real estate agent showing property to a certain ethnic group only in communities predominantly occupied by said ethnicity.

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