The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 (the “Act”) was enacted to protect individuals from discrimination by sellers or landlords in purchases and/or rentals of homes as well as other housing based transactions such as mortgage financing and advertising. An individual’s background cannot be used to arbitrarily restrict or prevent access to the ownership or rental of property. Initially, the law was targeted to protect against discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin, and in fact, was passed one week following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Throughout the past few decades, the law has been significantly expanded to extend to discrimination based on sex/gender (1974), handicap (1988) or familial status/families with children (1988).
What is targeted by the Federal Fair Housing Act?
If discrimination is based upon a prospective tenant’s or buyer’s membership in a protected group it is improper for anyone to “refuse to sell, rent or negotiate with any person, or otherwise make a dwelling unavailable to any person.” Similarly, it is improper to change the terms, conditions or services for different individuals as a means of discriminating against protected persons. The law also extends to advertisements, mortgage financing, refusing to show property or representing that a property is not available for sale or rental. It prohibits the denial of any individual membership in a multiple listing service, brokerage organization or other association as a result of an intent to discriminate.
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