The Fair Housing Act PDF Print E-mail
Fair Housing Act


The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example, financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.

Review HUD's Annual Report on Fair Housing 2010.

Supportive Housing Developers: if your local government is imposing additional restrictions such as requiring a special use variance to get zoning approval for your project, or refusing to sign a "Letter of Consistency with the Consolidated Plan", or other barriers, soley because of the fact that your project is targeting persons with disabilities, you may be able to file a Fair Housing Complaint against that entity. If the government entity is a HUD jurisdiction that receives HUD funds such as CDBG and HOME, the local government may be more inclined to respond postively to the complaint so the HUD funding is not put at risk.  Members may click here for a sample complaint for this type of discrimination.


What groups have been found by courts to be protected?

  • Persons with disabilities, including disabilities related to mental illness, HIV/AIDS, developmental disabilities, etc.
  • Persons who are homeless if you can show that they are being discriminated due to race, disability or other protected class.
  • Persons with substance abuse addictions, as long as they are not currently abusing drugs.
  • (See below for guidance on sexual orientation and gender identity)

The Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) extended protection to persons with a disability and families with children.
The definition of a person with a disability:

  • Physical or Mental Impairment that substantially limits one or more of a major life activity...
  • Record of impairment
  • Regarded as having an impairment

FHA Applies in a Wide Variety of Situations Relating to Housing

  • The sale or rental of housing;
  • The making of loans for housing;
  • The provision of homeowners’ insurance; and
  • Local governments’ decisions whether and where to put housing or allow others to put housing (including group homes);
  • The Act also makes it illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with another person’s fair housing rights.

The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. The Act further requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units.

Complaints of Fair Housing Act violations may be filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or in federal court. An attorney can provide more information about deadlines and other information for filing a complaint through the courts. Your State may also have a state fair housing law and process for filing complaints.

Any person who believes he/she has been discriminated against based on their disability may file a complaint with the nearest HUD office. You don't need an attorney to file a complaint. Complaints must be filed within 1 year from the date the discriminatory act took place and may be filed in person, over the telephone, or by mail. If the information is given over the telephone, the HUD office will put the complaint in writing and send it to the complainant for signature.


HUD will refer the complaint to the local office. A complaint form can also be downloaded from

For more information or to file a complaint, contact:

Office of Program Compliance and Disability Rights Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street, S.W. , Room 5242

Washington, D.C. 20140

(800) 669-9777 (voice)

(800) 927-9275 (TTY)

For questions about the Fair Housing Act, you may call the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at:

(202) 708-2333 (voice) (202) 401-1247 (TTY)

For publications, you may call the Housing and Urban Development Customer Service Center at:

(800) 767-7468 (voice) (800) 877-8339 (TTY)


Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

While sexual orientation and gender identity are not prohibited bases of discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act, housing discrimination against someone who is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender may, in certain circumstances, violate the Act's existing provisions, including its prohibition against gender discrimination. In addition, many states and local governments have enacted laws making discrimination against these groups unlawful. In January, 2011, U.S. Dept. of HUD issued Proposed Rules prohibiting discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity in HUD funded housing programs. HUD currently requires its recipients of discretionary funds to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation or gender identity.  HUD also issued guidance that treats discrimination based on gender nonconformity or sex stereotyping as sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, and instructs HUD staff to inform individuals filing complaints about state and local agencies that have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

Contact an attorney for Legal Advice.

Information provided by the National Supportive Housing Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.