Fair housing is housing without discrimination. Fair housing means not being discriminated against when you rent or buy a home. It also means that everyone has a right to live in a neighborhood or community where all kinds of people are welcome.
Housing discrimination comes in many forms and is committed against many different people. Discrimination affects everyone by limiting where we can live and who our neighbors can be.
Illegal Discrimination (Prohibited Bases)
Fair housing laws protect against discrimination in housing. Discrimination is illegal if the reason for the discrimination is listed in the law. If the reason for the discrimination isn’t listed in the law, the discrimination is not illegal.
- “I won’t rent to you because you’re African.” Illegal discrimination based on national origin and possibly race and color.
- “I won’t rent to you because you smoke.” Not illegal discrimination.
It’s illegal to discriminate against or harass anyone about housing because of the person's:
Landlords, realtors, banks, neighbors, towns and other people can consider other things when making decisions about housing. For example, they can make sure you can afford the housing. A landlord can ask for landlord references. But they can’t refuse you housing, have different rules or assume things about you because of any of the reasons listed above.
- A landlord can’t assume that because you are a single woman, you won't be able to afford the rent.
- A condo association can’t assume that because you have a disability, you won’t be able to live on your own.
- A town can’t allow people to put up Christmas decorations at their home, but not allow others to put up decorations to celebrate Ramadan.