The Fair Housing Act is a set of rules that governs discrimination in real estate, and if you’ve rented a property as a landlord or a tenant, chances are you’ve dealt with it in one way or another.

Although this act impacts a lot of what landlords do when they rent to tenants, such as who a landlord can refuse to rent to and on what basis, most landlords are not familiar with the intricate details of the act when renting out their property.

In this post, learn the basics of the Fair Housing Act, including what it prevents, how it impacts landlords, and why the rules and regulations in the act are needed.

Fair Housing Act Basics

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law used to prevent discrimination with respect to housing-related activities, specifically in regard to a person’s:

  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Race
  • Skin color
  • National origin (i.e. where they were born)
  • Familial status (i.e. whether they have or will be having children)

Why Do We Need Fair Housing Laws?

The purpose of the Fair Housing Act is to prevent discrimination caused by landlords treating certain groups of people differently than others. In the rental realm, discrimination can occur in numerous ways, for instance:

  • Creating discriminatory rental advertisements
  • Refusing to rent to certain people
  • Denying amenities or other benefits to particular people
  • Lying about rental vacancies

The act’s intention is to create equal opportunity to housing, ensure everyone is treated fairly, and prevent the development of segregated housing communities.

How Does the Fair Housing Act Impact Landlords?

For landlords, complying with the Fair Housing Act can occur in a variety of ways. It can be a big action, like ensuring everyone’s Rental Application is considered equally regardless of things like their religion, or a smaller action, like making sure landlords don’t ask discriminatory prescreening questions to tenants such as “do you plan on having children?”

As a landlord, complying with the act is a matter of ensuring you provide all your potential tenants the same opportunity to rent your property, regardless of aspects like race or gender, and to ensure you only refuse individuals for legitimate reasons like poor credit or a lack of steady income.

For landlords who are unsure about how to comply with the Fair Housing Act when renting out their property, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers information about fair housing laws, including what is considered a discriminatory practice.

Staying Fair when Renting

The Fair Housing Act is in place to help prevent landlords from discriminating against potential tenants by offering equal opportunity housing for everyone.

It’s important that landlords are aware of the act and follow the rules and regulations within it before offering their property up for rent.

Posted by Ashley Camarneiro

Ashley is an experienced researcher and writer with an interest in real estate, contract, and family law. Before starting at LawDepot in the summer of 2017, Ashley worked as a legal assistant in the corporate and family law sector.