Fair Housing & Discrimination

Fair Housing— It's Not An Option — It's The Law

Federal law prohibits housing discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability.

Question 1: What should my family do if we think we were discriminated against while we were looking for a home?

Answer: If your family members think they have been discriminated against while looking for a home, you should call the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 743-5323 or (800) 669-9777 or your family may file a complaint on the HUD website: www.hud.gov. Click on “I Want to File a Housing Discrimination Complaint”. TTY phone for hearing impaired (800) 927-9275.

Question 2: What is discrimination?

Answer: Discrimination is when you are not treated the same, or you do not treat others the same because there may be differences between you because of:

  • Race (African American, White, Asian)
  • Color
  • National Origin (Mexican, Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Somalian, Korean)
  • Sex (male, female)
  • Religion (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism)
  • Familial Status (Families with children under 18 years old; pregnant women; families who are adopting or gaining custody of a child), or
  • Disability (persons who must use a wheel chair, walker, or cane to move around; persons who are blind or deaf; persons with autism or have Down's syndrome)

Question 3: What is fair housing?

Answer: Fair housing means your family has the chance to choose where you want to live based on the family's ability to pay the rent or mortgage.

Question 4: Do you know what this symbol means?


Answer: This is the fair housing symbol. Landlords, real estate companies, and lending companies use this symbol to show that they will not discriminate against your family when your family is looking for a home. You may see this symbol in:

  • Advertisements for housing
  • Rental Offices for housing (apartments and houses)
  • Banks
  • Construction site signs

Question 5: What is the Fair Housing Act?

Answer: The Fair Housing Act is a law says that, as you seek housing, no one may discriminate against your family because of your family's race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, or disability.

Question 6: What kind of housing is covered by the Fair Housing Act?

Answer: The Fair Housing Act covers most housing: apartments, houses, condos, townhouses, mobile homes etc.

Question 7: What is it called if a person doesn't want to rent or a sell a home to a family with kids?

Answer: It is called familial status discrimination if a person doesn't want to rent or a sell a home to a family with children.

Families with children include:

  • Families with children under 18 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • Families who are waiting to adopt or get custody of a child
  • Grandparents

Question 8: Are there clues that show you that your family may have been discriminated against when looking for a place to live?

Answer: Yes, a clue may be found in statements made to a family when they want to rent or buy a home. These are examples of what we call familial status discrimination.


  • "I don't think your kids would like it here."
  • "Children cannot use the pool or club house."
  • "I wouldn't feel comfortable renting the apartment on the third floor to a family with a toddler."
  • "There is an additional security deposit of $100 per child."
  • "This is a quiet development, we don't want children living here."
  • "It is not safe for your children because we don't have a fence around the pool."
  • "Kids are not allowed to live in building number 1233."
  • "Our insurance doesn't cover renting to families with children."
  • "We don't have a playground where your children can play."

Question 9: How is a person with a disability protected under the Fair Housing Act?

Answer: A person with a disability is treated and protected in the same way as a person without a disability.

Some people with disabilities may have special needs so that they may live and enjoy the housing of their choice. For example:

  • A wider door so that a wheel chair can go through
  • A ramp so that they can get into the house without using steps
  • Guide dogs

Question 10: My family saw an ad that said "Only white people need apply," is this housing discrimination?

Answer: Yes, this could be housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. The law has requirements for advertising housing. An advertisement should not show that one racial group is more desired to live in this housing than another.