Fair Housing Law

What is the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of

  • Race or color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status (including children under 18 living with a parent or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under 18)
  • Handicap or disability

What Housing is Covered?

The Fair Housing Act covers most types of housing including most rental and homeownership situations. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What is Illegal? 

In the sale or rental of housing, any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or hanIndicap/disability:

  • Refusal to rent or sell housing
  • Refusal to negotiate for housing
  • Making housing unavailable
  • Denying a dwelling
  • Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • providing different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuading owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or:
  • Denying anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

In mortgage lending, any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):

  • Refusing to make a mortgage loan
  • Failing to provide infomation
  • Imposing different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
  • Discriminating in appraising property
  • Refusing to purchase a loan
  • Setting different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan

It is also illegal for anyone to:

  • threaten, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right.
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, or handicap (disability). This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Additional Protection If You Have a Disability:

If you or someone associated with you:

  • Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility, and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mentail illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex, and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • Have a record of such a disability OR
  • Are regarded as having such a disability

your landlord may not:

  • Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move).
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.



Fair Housing Center of Southeast Michigan: 1-877-979-FAIR


For more information, check out these resources:

Common Signs of Housing Discrimination

MSHDA Fair Housing Resources

HUD Fair Housing Resources