It is illegal to discriminate in housing against someone because of the country or nation they come from or the country or nation their parents or ancestors came from.
- I won’t rent to you because you’re from Somalia.
- I won’t rent to you because you’re Hispanic.
People discriminate based on national origin when they try to force others to hide or change their ethnicity. They discriminate based on national origin when they make negative remarks about a person or their ethnicity or treat people worse than others because they or their ancestors come from a particular part of the world or have particular customs.
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Here are some examples of national origin discrimination:
- A property manager asks a Hispanic applicant how many children they have but doesn’t ask other applicants.
- A condo association tells an owner they can’t hang Tibetan prayer flags but allows other owners to hang Christmas decorations.
- A landlord tells a tenant they can’t cook African food in their apartment.
- A realtor steers Bosnian home buyers away from a neighborhood, saying they wouldn't fit in with others who live in the neighborhood.
- A mortgage lender charges a couple a higher interest rate because they are Vietnamese.
Discrimination against people based on their national origin can look a lot like discrimination against people based on their race, color, or religion. Some people are discriminated against in housing for more than one unlawful reason.
- See our page about Discrimination Based on Race or Color
- See our page about Discrimination Based on Religion
National Origin Discrimination in Vermont
We studied discrimination in Vermont and published two reports about it: one report in 2012 and another report in 2014. We found that discrimination based on national origin is very common in Vermont.
Here are some examples of national origin discrimination that happened to people in Vermont:
- A man with a Hispanic accent applied for housing. The landlord told him that the apartment was already rented. A man who didn’t have a Hispanic accent applied for the same housing later that day. The landlord was eager to talk to this man and set up an appointment to show the housing to him.
- A Vietnamese woman rented an apartment. Her landlord told her to stop cooking fish because the other tenants didn't like how her cooking smelled. The landlord discriminated against the woman by telling her not to cook Vietnamese food.
- A Somali Bantu family rented an apartment paid for by the federal government. The public housing authority started an eviction because the family didn’t tell them that their teenaged son had a part time job. The family didn’t know they had to tell about the son’s job. The housing authority said they had told the family, but the interpreter they used spoke Somali, not Maay Maay. Maay Maay was the only language the family understood. The public housing provider discriminated against the family.
- A Somali Bantu woman rented an apartment. Her landlord told her that the food she cooked smelled disgusting. He told her to go back to Africa. When she complained about the hot water not working, he asked her why she needed hot water since she was from Africa. The landlord discriminated against the woman because she was from Africa.
- A man from the Sudan rented an apartment. His neighbors told him he should go back to Africa and called him racist names. The neighbors discriminated against the man because he was from Africa.
What to Do
If you think you were discriminated against in housing, you have choices for what to do. See our Housing Discrimination: What To Do page.
National origin discrimination seriously harms the people who are discriminated against and made to feel unwelcome. But national origin discrimination affects everyone. It keeps us from living in diverse, inclusive communities.