The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is the quintessential protection against discrimination in housing on the federal level. After a lengthy legislative battle, amid urban riots, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the FHA was enacted in 1968 . It extended the general discrimination protections included in the 1964 Civil Rights Act into the housing market. Specifically, the FHA prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. See below for the text of the Act.
Fair Housing Act
Sec. 800.[42 U.S.C. 3601 note] Short Title
This title may be cited as the "Fair Housing Act".
Sec. 801.[42 U.S.C. 3601] Declaration of Policy
It is the policy of the United States to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States.
Sec. 802.[42 U.S.C. 3602] Definitions
As used in this subchapter--
(b) "Dwelling" means any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families, and any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure, or portion thereof.
(c) "Family" includes a single individual.
(d) "Person" includes one or more individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, labor organizations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, trustees in cases under title 11 [of the United States Code], receivers, and fiduciaries.
(e) "To rent" includes to lease, to sublease, to let and otherwise to grant for a consideration the right to occupy premises not owned by the occupant.
(f) "Discriminatory housing practice" means an act that is unlawful under section 804, 805, 806, or 818 of this title.
(g) "State" means any of the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any of the territories and possessions of the United States.
(h) "Handicap" means, with respect to a person--
(i) "Aggrieved person" includes any person who--
(j) "Complainant" means the person (including the Secretary) who files a complaint under section 810.
(k) "Familial status" means one or more individuals (who have not attained the age of 18 years) being domiciled with--
The protections afforded against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years.
(l) "Conciliation" means the attempted resolution of issues raised by a complaint, or by the investigation of such complaint, through informal negotiations involving the aggrieved person, the respondent, and the Secretary.
(m) "Conciliation agreement" means a written agreement setting forth the resolution of the issues in conciliation.
(n) "Respondent" means--
(o) "Prevailing party" has the same meaning as such term has in section 722 of the Revised Statutes of the United States(42 U.S.C. 1988) .
(2) a record of having such an impairment, or
(3) being regarded as having such an impairment, but such term does not include current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance (as defined in section102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) ) .
(2) believes that such person will be injured by a discriminatory housing practice that is about to occur.
(2) the designee of such parent or other person having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person.
(2) any other person or entity identified in the course of investigation and notified as required with respect to respondents so identified under section 810(a) .
[42 U.S.C. 3602 note] Neither the term "individual with handicaps" nor the term "handicap" shall apply to an individual solely because that individual is a transvestite.
Sec. 803.[42 U.S.C. 3603] Effective dates of certain prohibitions
(b) Nothing in section 804 of this title (other than subsection (c) ) shall apply to--
(c) For the purposes of subsection (b) of this section, a person shall be deemed to be in the business of selling or renting dwellings if--
(2) After December 31, 1968, to all dwellings covered by paragraph (1) and to all other dwellings except as exempted by subsection (b) of this section.
(B) dwellings provided in whole or in part with the aid of loans, advances, grants, or contributions made by the Federal Government, under agreements entered into after November 20, 1962, unless payment due thereon has been made in full prior to April 11,1968;
(C) dwellings provided in whole or in part by loans insured, guaranteed, or otherwise secured by the credit of the Federal Government, under agreements entered into after November 20, 1962, unless payment thereon has been made in full prior to April 11, 1968: Provided, That nothing contained in subparagraphs (B) and (C) of this subsection shall be applicable to dwellings solely by virtue of the fact that they are subject to mortgages held by an FDIC or FSLIC institution; and
(D) dwellings provided by the development or the redevelopment of real property purchased, rented, or otherwise obtained from a State or local public agency receiving Federal financial assistance for slum clearance or urban renewal with respect to such real property under loan or grant contracts entered into after November 20, 1962.
(1) any single-family house sold or rented by an owner: Provided, That such private individual owner does not own more than three such single-family houses at any onetime: Provided further, That in the case of the sale of any such single-family house by a private individual owner not residing in such house at the time of such sale or who was not the most recent resident of such house prior to such sale, the exemption granted by this subsection shall apply only with respect to one such sale within any twenty-four month period: Provided further, That such bona fide private individual owner does not own any interest in, nor is there owned or reserved on his behalf, under any express or voluntary agreement, title to or any right to all or a portion of the proceeds from the sale or rental of, more than three such single-family houses at any one time: Provided further, That after December 31, 1969, the sale or rental of any such single-family house shall be excepted from the application of this subchapter only if such house is sold or rented (A) without the use in any manner of the sales or rental facilities or the sales or rental services of any real estate broker, agent, or salesman, or of such facilities or services of any person in the business of selling or renting dwellings, or of any employee or agent of any such broker, agent, salesman, or person and (B) without the publication, posting or mailing, after notice, of any advertisement or written notice in violation of section804(c) of this title; but nothing in this proviso shall prohibit the use of attorneys, escrow agents, abstractors, title companies, and other such professional assistance as necessary to perfect or transfer the title, or
(2) rooms or units in dwellings containing living quarters occupied or intended to be occupied by no more than four families living independently of each other, if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such living quarters as his residence.
(2) he has, within the preceding twelve months, participated as agent, other than in the sale of his own personal residence in providing sales or rental facilities or sales or rental services in two or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any dwelling or any interest therein, or
(3) he is the owner of any dwelling designed or intended for occupancy by, or occupied by, five or more families.
Sec. 804.[42 U.S.C. 3604] Discrimination in sale or rental of housing and other prohibited practices
As made applicable by section 803 of this title and except as exempted by sections 803(b) and 807 of this title, it shall be unlawful--
(b) To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.
(c) To make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.
(d) To represent to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available.
(e) For profit, to induce or attempt to induce any person to sell or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons of a particular race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
(2) To discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a handicap of--
(3) For purposes of this subsection, discrimination includes--
(4) Compliance with the appropriate requirements of the American National Standard for buildings and facilities providing accessibility and usability for physically handicapped people (commonly cited as "ANSI A117.1") suffices to satisfy the requirements of paragraph(3) (C) (iii) .
(7) As used in this subsection, the term "covered multifamily dwellings" means--
(8) Nothing in this title shall be construed to invalidate or limit any law of a State or political subdivision of a State, or other jurisdiction in which this title shall be effective, that requires dwellings to be designed and constructed in a manner that affords handicapped persons greater access than is required by this title.
(9) Nothing in this subsection requires that a dwelling be made available to an individual whose tenancy would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or whose tenancy would result insubstantial physical damage to the property of others.
(B) a person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is so sold, rented, or made available; or
(C) any person associated with that buyer or renter.
(B) a person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is so sold, rented, or made available; or
(C) any person associated with that person.
(B) a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling; or
(C) in connection with the design and construction of covered multifamily dwellings for first occupancy after the date that is 30 months after the date of enactment of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of1988, a failure to design and construct those dwelling in such a manner that--
(ii) all the doors designed to allow passage into and within all premises within such dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage by handicapped persons in wheelchairs; and
(iii) all premises within such dwellings contain the following features of adaptive design:
(II) light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls in accessible locations;
(III) reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and
(IV) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.
(B) A State or unit of general local government may review and approve newly constructed covered multifamily dwellings for the purpose of making determinations as to whether the design and construction requirements of paragraph (3) (C) are met.
(C) The Secretary shall encourage, but may not require, States and units of local government to include in their existing procedures for the review and approval of newly constructed covered multifamily dwellings, determinations as to whether the design and construction of such dwellings are consistent with paragraph (3) (C) , and shall provide technical assistance to States and units of local government and other persons to implement the requirements of paragraph (3) (C) .
(D) Nothing in this title shall be construed to require the Secretary to review or approve the plans, designs or construction of all covered multifamily dwellings, to determine whether the design and construction of such dwellings are consistent with the requirements of paragraph 3(C) .
(B) Determinations by a State or a unit of general local government under paragraphs (5) (A) and(B) shall not be conclusive in enforcement proceedings under this title.
(B) ground floor units in other buildings consisting of 4 or more units.
Sec. 805.[42 U.S.C. 3605] Discrimination in Residential Real Estate-Related Transactions
(b) Definition.--As used in this section, the term "residential real estate-related transaction" means any of the following:
(c) Appraisal Exemption.--Nothing in this title prohibits a person engaged in the business of furnishing appraisals of real property to take into consideration factors other than race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, or familial status.
(2) The selling, brokering, or appraising of residential real property.
(B) secured by residential real estate.
Sec. 806.[42 U.S.C. 3606] Discrimination in provision of brokerage services
After December 31, 1968, it shall be unlawful to deny any person access to or membership or participation in any multiple-listing service, real estate brokers' organization or other service, organization, or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, or to discriminate against him in the terms or conditions of such access, membership, or participation, on account of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
Sec. 807.[42 U.S.C. 3607] Religious organization or private club exemption
(2) As used in this section "housing for older persons" means housing --
(3) Housing shall not fail to meet the requirements for housing for older persons by reason of:
(4) Nothing in this title prohibits conduct against a person because such person has been convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction of the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance as defined in section102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) .
(B) intended for, and solely occupied by, persons62 years of age or older; or
(C) intended and operated for occupancy by persons 55years of age or older, and--
(ii) the housing facility or community publishes and adheres to policies and procedures that demonstrate the intent required under this subparagraph; and
(iii) the housing facility or community complies with rules issued by the Secretary for verification of occupancy, which shall--
(II) include examples of the types of policies and procedures relevant to a determination of compliance with the requirement of clause (ii) . Such surveys and affidavits shall be admissible in administrative and judicial proceedings for the purposes of such verification.
(A) persons residing in such housing as of the date of enactment of this Act who do not meet the age requirements of subsections (2) (B) or (C) : Provided,That new occupants of such housing meet the age requirements of sections (2) (B) or (C) ; or
(B) unoccupied units: Provided, That such units are reserved for occupancy by persons who meet the age requirements of subsections (2) (B) or (C) .
(B) For the purposes of this paragraph, a person may only show good faith reliance on the application of the exemption by showing that--
(ii) the facility or community has stated formally, in writing, that the facility or community complies with the requirements for such exemption.
Sec. 808.[42 U.S.C. 3608] Administration
(b) Assistant Secretary
(c) Delegation of authority; appointment of administrative law judges; location of conciliation meetings; administrative review
(d) Cooperation of Secretary and executive departments and agencies in administration of housing and urban development programs and activities to further fair housing purposes
(e) Functions of Secretary
(2) publish and disseminate reports, recommendations, and information derived from such studies, including an annual report to the Congress--
(B) containing tabulations of the number of instances (and the reasons therefore) in the preceding year in which--
(ii) determinations are not made within the time specified in section 810(g) ; and
(iii) hearings are not commenced or findings and conclusions are not made as required by section 812(g) ;
(3) cooperate with and render technical assistance to Federal, State, local, and other public or private agencies, organizations, and institutions which are formulating or carrying on programs to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices;
(4) cooperate with and render such technical and other assistance to the Community Relations Service as may be appropriate to further its activities in preventing or eliminating discriminatory housing practices;
(5) administer the programs and activities relating to housing and urban development in a manner affirmatively to further the policies of this subchapter; and
(6) annually report to the Congress, and make available to the public, data on the race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, and family characteristics of persons and households who are applicants for, participants in, or beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of, programs administered by the Department to the extent such characteristics are within the coverage of the provisions of law and Executive orders referred to in subsection (f) which apply to such programs (and in order to develop the data to be included and made available to the public under this subsection, the Secretary shall, without regard to any other provision of law, collect such information relating to those characteristics as the Secretary determines to be necessary or appropriate) .
(f) The provisions of law and Executive orders to which subsection (e) (6) applies are--
(2) title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968;
(3) section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
(4) the Age Discrimination Act of 1975;
(5) the Equal Credit Opportunity Act;
(6) section 1978 of the Revised Statutes (42 U.S.C.1982) ;
(7) section 8(a) of the Small Business Act;
(8) section 527 of the National Housing Act;
(9) section 109 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974;
(10) section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968;
(11) Executive Orders 11063, 11246, 11625, 12250,12259, and 12432; and
(12) any other provision of law which the Secretary specifies by publication in the Federal Register for the purpose of this subsection.
Sec. 808a.[42 U.S.C. 3608a] Collection of certain data
(b) Reports to Congress
Sec. 809.[42 U.S.C. 3609] Education and conciliation; conferences and consultations; reports
Immediately after April 11, 1968, the Secretary shall commence such educational and conciliatory activities as in his judgment will further the purposes of this subchapter. He shall call conferences of persons in the housing industry and other interested parties to acquaint them with the provisions of this subchapter and his suggested means of implementing it, and shall endeavor with their advice to work out programs of voluntary compliance and of enforcement. He may pay per diem, travel, and transportation expenses for persons attending such conferences as provided in section 5703 of Title 5. He shall consult with State and local officials and other interested parties to learn the extent, if any, to which housing discrimination exists in their State or locality, and whether and how State or local enforcement programs might be utilized to combat such discrimination in connection with or in place of, the Secretary's enforcement of this subchapter. The Secretary shall issue reports on such conferences and consultations as he deems appropriate.
Sec. 810.[42 U.S.C. 3610] Administrative Enforcement; Preliminary Matters
(b) Investigative Report and Conciliation. --
(B) Upon the filing of such a complaint--
(C) If the Secretary is unable to complete the investigation within 100 days after the filing of the complaint (or, when the Secretary takes further action under subsection (f) (2) with respect to a complaint, within 100 days after the commencement of such further action) , the Secretary shall notify the complainant and respondent in writing of the reasons for not doing so.
(D) Complaints and answers shall be under oath or affirmation, and may be reasonably and fairly amended at any time.
(i) An aggrieved person may, not later than one year after an alleged discriminatory housing practice has occurred or terminated, file a complaint with the Secretary alleging such discriminatory housing practice. The Secretary, on the Secretary's own initiative, may also file such a complaint.
(ii) Such complaints shall be in writing and shall contain such information and be in such form as the Secretary requires.
(iii) The Secretary may also investigate housing practices to determine whether a complaint should be brought under this section.
(ii) the Secretary shall, not later than 10days after such filing or the identification of an additional respondent under paragraph (2) , serve on the respondent a notice identifying the alleged discriminatory housing practice and advising such respondent of the procedural rights and obligations of respondents under this title, together with a copy of the original complaint;
(iii) each respondent may file, not later than 10 days after receipt of notice from the Secretary, an answer to such complaint; and
(iv) the Secretary shall make an investigation of the alleged discriminatory housing practice and complete such investigation within 100 days after the filing of the complaint(or, when the Secretary takes further action under subsection (f) (2) with respect to a complaint, within 100 days after the commencement of such further action) , unless it is impracticable to do so.
(B) Such notice, in addition to meeting the requirements of paragraph (1) , shall explain the basis for the Secretary's belief that the person to whom the notice is addressed is properly joined as a respondent.
Talk to an Attorney about Fair Housing Act Violations
Were you mistreated while trying to purchase a home or renting an apartment? Were you discriminated against because you have a disability or are a member of another protected class? If you suspect that your rights under the FHA have been violated, talk to an attorney familiar with discrimination claims about your rights.
Contact a qualified civil rights attorney to help you protect your rights.