Discrimination Based on Race or Color
It’s against the law for landlords, real estate agents, and others to treat you differently than other tenants or homebuyers because of your race or color.
It can be hard to tell if a landlord or real estate agent is discriminating against you. Here are some signs that your landlord or realtor might have broken the law by discriminating against you:
Racial Discrimination When You’re Looking for Housing
Landlords, banks, real estate agents, and others don’t usually say things like, "You can't live here because you’re Black." More often, they discriminate against people of color by doing things like:
- Saying an apartment has already been rented, even though it hasn’t been
- Not returning their call or email
- Only showing them houses in areas where other people of color live
- Telling them where people of color usually live
- Only showing them houses in a poorer neighborhood, even though they can afford something more expensive
- You see an ad for an apartment you might like to rent. You talk to the landlord. The landlord tells you that you might be more comfortable living somewhere else. If the landlord says this because of your race, it’s housing discrimination.
- You are looking for a house to buy. You set up an appointment to see houses with a realtor. You see a house you like and can afford. You decide to make an offer. When you call the realtor, she says someone else has already made an offer. Two weeks later, you notice the house is still advertised on the realtor's website. If the realtor did this because of your race, it’s discrimination.
- You apply for an apartment. The landlord asks you a lot of questions like:
- Who is the apartment for? How many people will live in the apartment?
- Where do you work?
- Do you have good credit and rental references?
- Where are you from?
These questions might be legal. However, if a landlord asks applicants of color a lot of questions, and does not ask White applicants as many questions, it may be a sign of discrimination.
Racial Discrimination by Your Landlord or Other Tenants
It is illegal for your landlord, because of your race or color, to:
- Not provide services to you if your landlord provides those services to other tenants
- Charge you more rent
- If your landlord refuses to repair your apartment because of your race or color, it is discrimination.
- If your landlord makes racist comments about the food you cook, that is discrimination.
It is illegal for your neighbors, because of your race or color, to:
- Harass you by repeatedly making racist comments
- Damage your property
- Threaten you
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.
Discrimination based on race or color seriously harms the people who are discriminated against and made to feel unwelcome. But race and color discrimination affects everyone. It keeps us from living in diverse, inclusive communities.