Federal Fair Housing Act
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
* Race or color
* National origin
* Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents; or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)
Sometimes city ordinances can provide more protection than the federal or state acts, so check with your city to find out what is covered. For example, the federal and state acts do not provide protection for discrimination based upon marital status or sexual orientation, but some cities in Texas might provide this protection in their ordinances.
What housing is covered?
The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, a landlord that has only a few single-family homes that were sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.
At a minimum under federal law, a landlord may not do the following things based on whole or in part on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability:
* Refuse to rent or sell housing
* Refuse to negotiate for housing
* Make housing unavailable
* Deny a dwelling
* Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
* Provide different housing services or facilities
* Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
* For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
* Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.
It is also illegal for anyone to:
* Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
* Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
If you or someone associated with you:
- Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
- Have a record of such a disability; or
- Are regarded as having such a disability
your landlord may not:
- Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
Example: A building with a “no pets” policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.
Example: An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.