| What do we mean when we say "fair housing"? |
"Fair housing" refers to practices that comply with the federal Fair Housing Act, originally passed in 1968, and similar state and local laws. The Fair Housing Act as amended prohibits discrimination in housing and related transactions on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability and familial status (the presence or anticipated presence of children under 18 in a home). The Act covers all kinds of housing-related transactions, including but not necessarily limited to rentals, home sales, mortgage lending, homeowner's insurance, home improvement and zoning.
Not all "unfair" practices by a landlord or someone else involved in a housing-related transaction with a consumer are covered by the Fair Housing Act. For example, a landlord who fails to make repairs or otherwise live up to his obligations under a lease, or a real estate agent who commits a violation of state rules of agent ethics, may be acting "unfairly," but he is not in violation of the Fair Housing Act unless his actions (or failure to act) is discriminatory on one of the seven bases listed above (state and local fair housing laws may add further protected bases).
The National Fair Housing Advocate web site focuses specifically on housing discrimination issues; other sites, such as Tenant Net, focus on landlord-tenant and other issues not covered by the Fair Housing Act. We have also attempted to accommodate those with landlord tenant questions by establishing a specific discussion area in our Discussion Forum. Some of the regular participants in the forum may answer your questions.