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Quick Answers...Legal Issues


How do I know if a landlord, management company, or public housing authority has discriminated against me?

The Federal Fair Housing Act prevents landlords from discriminating against tenants based on certain group characteristics, including:

  • Race, ethnic background or national origin
  • Gender
  • Religious affiliation or belief
  • Familial status, including whether you have children or are pregnant (except in designated senior housing)
  • Mental or physical disability

Examples of housing discrimination based on the protected categories above include:

  • Advertising with a statement that indicates a preference based on a group characteristic (e.g., skin color, gender, disability status)
  • Lying about a rental unit's availability to avoid renting to someone in one of the protected groups
  • Terminating a lease agreement with a tenant for a discriminatory reason
  • Refusing to rent to members of certain groups (e.g., single parents, specific faith groups)
  • Unwillingness of the landlord to reasonably accommodate needs of disabled tenants or renters
  • Charging more rent or setting different standards, such as higher income, for certain tenants
  • Enforcing policies inconsistently, based on membership in one of the protected groups.

If you think a landlord has broken a federal fair housing law, contact a local office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the agency which enforces the Fair Housing Act.

To get a housing discrimination complaint form and instructions for filing it, see Are You a Victim of Housing Discrimination?

If you would prefer not to file a complaint with HUD, you may file a lawsuit directly in federal or state court.







Brenda Procter, M.S., State Specialist & Instructor
Personal Financial Planning, University of Missouri-Extension





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Last update: Wednesday, April 19, 2006




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