Fair Housing Act: Protected Characteristics and Prohibited Discrimination
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a vital piece of legislation that prohibits housing discrimination based on certain protected characteristics. While many people are familiar with the FHA’s prohibition against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, it’s important to recognize that the Act extends protection to other categories as well. In this blog post, we will explore the other protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act and the forms of discrimination that are prohibited.
The Fair Housing Act provides protection against discrimination based on disability. This includes individuals with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. Landlords and housing providers are prohibited from:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing to individuals with disabilities.
- Imposing different terms, conditions, or privileges on individuals with disabilities.
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations to allow individuals with disabilities to fully enjoy and use their housing.
- Failing to design and construct multifamily dwellings with accessible features for individuals with disabilities.
2. Familial Status
The FHA protects individuals with children under the age of 18 or who are pregnant (familial status). Discrimination based on familial status is illegal, and housing providers are prohibited from:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing to families with children.
- Imposing different terms or conditions on families with children.
- Restricting access to certain housing units or neighborhoods based on familial status.
The Fair Housing Act also includes protections against discrimination based on sex or gender. This encompasses discrimination based on a person’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Housing providers are prohibited from:
- Denying housing opportunities to individuals based on their sex or gender.
- Imposing different rental terms or conditions based on sex or gender.
- Harassing or making derogatory comments or actions based on sex or gender.
4. National Origin
National origin discrimination is another protected characteristic under the Fair Housing Act. It prohibits housing providers from discriminating against individuals based on their country of origin, ancestry, or linguistic characteristics. Examples of prohibited actions include:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing to individuals based on their national origin.
- Applying different rental terms or conditions based on national origin.
- Providing different services or amenities based on national origin.
- Making derogatory or offensive comments or actions based on national origin.
The Fair Housing Act is a critical piece of legislation designed to promote fair and equal access to housing for all individuals. In addition to protecting against discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin, the Act also extends protection to other important characteristics such as disability, familial status, sex/gender, and national origin. It is essential for housing providers, landlords, and tenants to understand and respect these protected characteristics to ensure compliance with the law and promote equal housing opportunities for everyone. If you believe you have experienced housing discrimination, consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the necessary steps to protect your rights and seek appropriate remedies.