Tenant Discrimination Laws

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Landlords must be careful not to violate any anti-discrimination housing laws. The following is a list and description of the various federal anti-discrimination laws.  Each state may have additional laws that they have enacted as well. 

There are significant penalties if landlords violate renting discrimination laws.

Laws Protecting Tenants from Discrimination

Fair Housing Act:  "The Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability).”

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: "Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.”

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973:  "Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Section 109 of Title I of the Housing and Community: "Section 109 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or religion in programs and activities receiving financial assistance from HUD's Community Development and Block Grant Program.”

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: "Title II prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs, services, and activities provided or made available by public entities. HUD enforces Title II when it relates to state and local public housing, housing assistance and housing referrals.”

Architectural Barriers Act of 1968: The Architectural Barriers Act requires that buildings and facilities designed, constructed, altered, or leased with certain federal funds after September 1969 must be accessible to and useable by handicapped persons.”

Age Discrimination Act of 1975: "The Age Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance.”

Fair housing complaints can be made with the Housing & Urban Development Agency (HUD) either online or by calling the toll free number at 1 800 669-9777 or by mail to the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Department of Housing and Urban Development, Room 5204, 451 Seventh Street SW, Washington, DC 20410-2000. 

Legally Rejected Rental Applications

The following are valid legal reasons to reject tenant rental applications.

  • Poor Credit/ Low Income
  • Negative references
  • Evictions
  • Criminal Records
  • Pets
  • Incomplete or Inaccurate Application

Types of Illegal Discrimination

State and federal laws prohibits discrimination in rental housing based upon a various number of factors including race, color, sex, age, handicaps, and family status. The following are types of illegal discrimination that are covered by the above federal discrimination acts: 

  • Race, Color, or Religion
  • National Origin
  • Family status
  • Age or Gender
  • Disability
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Orientation

You should check with your local state to find out what if any other additional discrimination laws they have enacted. 


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