What is the Fair Housing Act?

The federal Fair Housing Act was first enacted as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying or securing financing for housing.

The act makes it illegal to refuse to rent, sell or negotiate different terms for housing to a person based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status.

The Fair Housing Act also prohibits advertising properties for sale or rent by indicating preferences of discrimination.

The act provides procedures for handling complaints of people who believe that they have been victims of an illegal housing practice. Individuals who think their rights have been violated may file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While the Fair Housing Act covers most housing, 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.

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