Fair Housing Act


What is Fair Housing Act?


The Fair Housing Act is the federal act which was passed in 1968 for the purpose of protecting people who want to buy or rent a home from seller or landlord discrimination due to inclusion in a protected class.


Attempts to define and create fair housing in America have been underway since the 1800’s. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s that any headway was made, and it wasn’t until 1968- one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.- that the Fair Housing Act was passed.

The Rumford Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 preceded the Fair Housing Act in 1968, but it was the Fair Housing Act that had any impact on its target purpose. One of its central objectives is to eradicate discrimination in the sales and rental of housing.

It protects people from various forms of discrimination when they are seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or looking to buy or rent a home. The protection from discrimination applies when the form of discrimination takes place against any person because of their inclusion in any one of seven protected classes.

Protected classes are:

National Origin
Familial Status


The Fair Housing Act covers most housing circumstances. In some cases, the owners, landlords, or sellers of a piece of property are exempt from the Act:

  • In the case of renting where a building is owner occupied and has no more than 4 units.
  • The Single Family home is sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent.
  • When the housing is operated by a religious organization or a private club which places limits on occupancy to members.

In mortgage lending it is otherwise illegal to refuse to make a mortgage loan, or provide other financial assistance for a home because of a person’s inclusion in a protected class. In the rental or selling of a home it is illegal to do things like refuse to rent or sell a house; set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a home; use different qualification criteria; or evict a tenant or a tenant’s guest based on a person’s inclusion in a protected class.

You can visit https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint for a full list, or information on Fair Housing Compliance.