What is Fair Housing?

Fair Housing

April is Fair Housing Month and marks the 54th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. You may wonder, what is the Fair Housing Act? Why is it important?

Passed in 1968, the Fair Housing Act established a set of laws to protect individuals from discrimination when renting or buying a home, seeking housing assistance, applying for a mortgage, or other housing related activities. These laws ensure that everyone receives an equal opportunity to choose the housing that best fits their needs.

Discrimination can take on many forms and is not always obvious. Knowing your rights and where to go should you experience discrimination as a renter or homebuyer is important.

Who Is Protected Under the Fair Housing Act?

There are seven protected categories under this act.

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status
  • Disability

In Ohio, there are two additional protected classes:

  • Military Status
  • Ancestry

How does the Fair Housing Act work?

The Fair Housing Act protects against discrimination when an individual is engaging in housing related activities, such as renting a home or apartment, buying or selling a home, and mortgage lending. The Act also states it is illegal to threaten, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right. It also is illegal to retaliate against someone who has filed a fair housing complaint or whom has assisted in an investigation.

Here are a few descriptions of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act:

  • Refusal to rent or sell housing
  • Making housing unavailable
  • Setting different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a property
  • Providing different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely denying housing is available for inspection, sale or rental of a property
  • Denying access to or membership in a facility or service related to the sale of housing
  • Advertising or making any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. This prohibition applies to single family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

If you think you are victim of discrimination by a landlord, Real Estate Company or other entity, you have the right to file a fair housing discrimination complaint. Complaints can be filed with HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) or by contacting the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.