Get started

Types of discrimination prohibited by the national Fair Housing Act


Fair housing laws prohibit types of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or familial status.


Last updated 06/23/2023

In this page

Race, color, or national origin discrimination

Treating certain groups of people differently than others based on race, color, or national origin.  A landlord cannot ask you questions about your race, color, or national origin. It is unlawful for a landlord to require you to pay a higher rent or higher security deposit because of your race, color, or national origin. 

Sex discrimination

Sex discrimination is the unequal treatment of individuals based on sex. 

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual acts, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can occur when the landlord withholds benefits and expects sexual favors in order for you to receive those benefits. 

Proving sexual harassment can be difficult because often the landlord approaches victims in private. But if your landlord is harassing you, there is a good chance he or she is also harassing other tenants. Talk to other tenants and you may find that you are not alone. 

Disability discrimination

A disability can be either physical or mental. If you can perform all duties necessary to fulfill the lease requirements, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you or evict you because of a disability. Even if you cannot perform one of the duties of the lease, a landlord may still be required to accommodate you if such accommodation is reasonable.  

A landlord may not refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common-use areas, at your expense, if the modification is necessary for you to use and enjoy the housing. In some cases, your landlord may have to pay for the modification.

Religious discrimination

Treatment of people with a certain religion, or people of no religion, differently on the basis of their beliefs. 

Familial status discrimination

It is against the law for a landlord to discriminate against you because you have children. A landlord may not advertise that no children are allowed or set age restrictions. A landlord may not charge a higher rent or security deposit because you have children. However, there are exceptions. For example, some senior citizen housing complexes may refuse to rent to families with minor children.