The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. The Fair Housing Act applies to all public and private rental communities and all housing available for purchase. Also included are houses, duplexes, condos, building lots, dormitories, modular homes, co-ops, homeless shelters, single family homes and timeshares. We provide Fair Housing education, outreach, advocacy and counseling.
Attend or Schedule Fair Housing Education or outreach event
We hold quarterly hour-long community-based educational sessions on different topics in fair housing. These sessions are free and open to the public.
Contact Sam Gannon to request a fair housing counseling education session (615-484-1801 or sam@help-in-housing)..
file a discrimination complaint
If you feel that you have encountered discrimination in obtaining housing or credit, we can help you file a complaint. In just a few minutes, we can help you write up the complaint and submit it to the correct federal agency to investigate the claim.
Please note: our role in Fair Housing violations and/or complaints is to give information and assist clients in filing a complaint through HUD or through other State and/or local programs that handle complaints.
Contact Sam Gannon to schedule an appointment to file a complaint (615-484-1801 or sam@help-in-housing).
Review our Fair Housing/Fair Lending Discrimination Complaint Privacy Statement.
schedule a fair housing counseling session
We routinely offer one-on-one fair housing counseling to individuals and families. These sessions include a brief intake process, a discussion of issues faced and potential actions and/or solutions. Before you leave, we will establish an action place outlining the next steps in the process. We will follow up with you to offer continued assistance and information.
Contact Sam Gannon to schedule a fair housing counseling session (615-484-1801 or sam@help-in-housing).
Fair housing act protected classes
Race refers to the person's unchangeable physical characteristics or biological traits.
Color refers to a less broad characteristic of a person's race, that unchangeable physical characteristic relating to the lightness or darkness of one's skin pigment.
National Origin refers to a person's country of birth or that of his/her ancestors. National origin is inherited from one's parents.
Religious protections include protecting an individual's religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs in the case of atheism.
Once refereed to as sex, it now refers to Gender which is either male or female. The act also covers eviction of victims due to police presence for domestic violence. In this case, sexual harassment also involves sex and therefore protection from harassment is included in the Fair Housing Protections.
Familial status includes the presence of children under the age of 18, pregnancy, children living with their parents and/or legal custodians or individuals in the process of securing custody of children under age 18.
Formerly handicap, disability includes someone with a current or prior history of mental or physical impairment limiting one or more major life activities and someone who encountered or experienced discriminatory practices because they or someone close to them displayed their disability and that display was viewed in a limiting manner by a non-exempted party to the transaction.
Disability includes a person with a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Research Complex and mental retardation).
fair housing act Exemptions
Some circumstances are exempt from the Fair Housing Act, including:
- Single-family housing sold or rented without the use of broker and without advertising
- Owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units
- Housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members
- Special purpose housing for communities made up of housing for older persons (commonly age 55 years or older)
prohibited actions under the fair housing act
In the rental and sale of housing, no one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status or disability:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing
- Refusing to negotiate for housing
- Making housing unavailable
- Denying a dwelling for reasons outlined in the protected class
- Setting different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling based upon a protected class
- Providing different housing services or facilities
- Falsely representing that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
- For profit, persuading owners to sell or rent (blockbusting)
- Denying anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing
- Producing discriminatory marketing
- Refusing to make a mortgage loan
- Refusing to lend money or extend credit to borrowers in a certain area
- Advising customers to buy in a certain area due to rate or failing to show all properties a buyer can qualify for because of their race
- Refusing to provide information regarding loans
- Imposing different terms or conditions on a loan (such as different interest rates, points or fees)
- Discriminating in appraising property
- Refusing to purchase a loan
- Setting different terms or conditoins for purchasing a loan
Examples of discriminatory practices under the fair housing act
Here are some real-life examples of Fair Housing Act violations:
- A landlord turns away every white applicant because previous white tenants didn't pay their rent on time
- An advertisement for a rental unit that is within a "safe Christian community"
- An advertisement for special discounts to "members of the Polish-American Club"
- A landlord who required proof of citizenship or immigration papers from applicants of one ethnic group and not another
- An appraiser who makes downward adjustments die to a bias against a neighborhood
- Use of the following words in marketing such as "undesirable neighborhood" or "crime ridden area"
- A building with a no pets policy denying a visually impaired tenant the opportunity to keep a guide dog
Housing providers who must adhere to the fair housing act
- Owners of property
- Management companies
- Real estate brokers and agents
- Property managers
- Maintenance staff
- Leasing agents
- Mortgage Companies
- Advertising agencies
- Insurance companies
- Public housing authorities
- Housing related grant recipients
- Construction companies
- Manufactured housing providers
modifications for disabled renters under the fair housing act
A landlord must allow a disabled tenant to make reasonable modifications to a dwelling or common areas (at the disabled individual's expense) if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. The disabled tenant must agree to restore the property to its original condition when the tenant moves. A landlord may require the tenant to put money into an escrow account to cover the eventual cost of returning the unit to its original condition.
A landlord must also make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
A landlord may request proof of the need for accommodation or modification. A physician, therapist, counselor, or any third-party professional may provide written support for the request. No specific details are required, only a professional opinion that the modifications would be appropriate.
overcoming common issues about fair housing
The following statements are true of Fair Housing rules:
- Fair housing laws do not guarantee any person a right to housing that they cannot afford
- Property owners may set rents at whatever the market will bear
- An agent or property owner can adopt and apply uniform, objective, and nondiscriminatory criteria designated to evaluate a prospective tenant's credit worthiness, such as setting income standards, imposing a credit check or criminal background check
- An agent or property owner is not required to rent to users and dealers of illegal drugs
A landlord may consider the following when screening a tenant:
- Credit history
- Prior bankruptcy
- History of nonpayment of rent
- Some types of criminal convictions
fair housing Best practices
- Use a rental application for all prospective tenants
- If running a rental office, use a sign-in sheet for all prospective tenants to establish a first come, first served list
- Create an advertising checklist to avoid accidental unlawful advertising copy or images
- Pur a Fair HousingDisclosure and logo on all advertising and outreach materials
- Properly display Fair Housing poster
- Provide training to all new employees and document in their personal file
- Have written policies for processing renter applications and follow those policies
Download our Fair Housing Standard Procedures Checklist
City of Murfreesboro Fair Housing Plan (2017 Third Year Annual Action Plan)
City of Murfreesboro Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing (2015 Supplement)
Local HUD Office for our community (in Atlanta): (800) 440-8091
HUD's Multifamily Housing Complaint Line: (800) 685-8470
Fair Housing Resources & Contact Information
Fair Housing Timeline
Civil Rights Act of 1866 – This act was passed after the Civil War stated all citizens have the right to give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and convey real and personal property.
Plessy vs Ferguson of 1896 – In this US Supreme Court case, "separate but equal" was declared a legal practice. This decision justified the government in providing segregated programs, services and facilities, including segregated public accommodations and housing.
Home Owners' Loan Corp of 1933 – In this, the US Congress created the Home Owners' Loan Corp to avoid mass foreclosures during the Great Depression. This created the practice "redlining," in which minority and inner-city communities were deemed as too risky for investment. This also set up and supported discriminatory deed practices in the early 1900s, which included language denying certain groups of people the opportunity to acquire or use the real estate.
Housing Act of 1937 – This Act provided subsidies to improve living conditions for low-income households.
Shelly vs Kraemer of 1948 – After this case, discriminatory deed restrictions illegal and unenforceable. Today, efforts to enforce restrictive clauses in deeds violate the Fair Housing Act.
Brown vs. Board of Education 1954 – This decision overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson's "separate but equal" prohibiting the government's segregation of programs, services and housing facilities.
Executive Order 11063 of 1964 – The EO was signed by US President John Kennedy and made discrimination and segregation in the sale, leasing, rental or other disposition of government-owned, government-operated and/or government-funded real estate.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 – This Act prohibits discrimination and segregation in public places on the basis of race, color, national origin or religion. This Act did not include or address housing discrimination.
Civil Rights Act of 1968 – The Act followed up on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It expanded on the previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin and religion. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act is also known as the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 – This law established Ginnie Mae to support government-backed loans expanding lending opportunities with VA and FHA loans for moderate income buyers.
Fair Housing Act (FHA) – The FHA protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying or securing financing for any housing. These prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability. Many states and local jurisdictions now include sexual orientation as a protected class against housing discrimination.
Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1974 - This amendment was passed to correct inadequacies of the original act, adding sex in 1974. They also included the enforcement responsibilities of HUD through the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO).
Fair Housing Amendments Acts of 1988 - This amendment was passed to correct inadequacies in the original act and expanded the coverage of the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on disability or on familial status (presence of a child under 18 and/or pregnant women). It also established new administrative enforcement mechanisms with HUD attorneys bringing actions before an administrative judge on behalf of the victims of housing discrimination and revised and expanded US Justice Department jurisdiction to bring suit on behalf of victims in Federal district court.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act - This law was passed in 1974 and banned discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It contains design and construction accessibility provisions for certain new multifamily dwellings developed for first occupancy after March 1991.
Although HUD has had a lead role in administering the Fair Housing Act since it was adopted in 1968. the 1988 amendment greatly increased its enforcement role. Protected classes have proven significant sources of new complaints and HUD's expanded enforcement role has taken HUD beyond investigation and conciliation into mandatory enforcement areas.
July 1, 2010 HUD Guidance on LGBT Housing Discrimination Complaints - new policies to assist lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and families when facing discrimination. Referred to as gender discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.