What Is Housing Discrimination?
Housing discrimination is a pervasive problem nationwide. It is also severely under-reported. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that more than two million instances of housing discrimination occur each year, but fewer than one percent are reported.
Many people are unaware that they have been victims of housing discrimination. A 2002 study by HUD suggests that many renters and homebuyers do not fully understand which activities are illegal under the Fair Housing Act.
If you think your rights to fair housing have been violated, help is available. Housing discrimination complaints can be filed by phone or in writing, with HUD and/or with private fair housing enforcement agencies located across the country.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of:
- Race or color
- National origin
- Familial status (families with children)
Under the Fair Housing Act, the following activities are illegal:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Make housing unavailable
- Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental
- Provide different housing services or facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
- For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting)
- Deny any access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale of housing
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules or services if necessary for a disabled person to use the housing
- Refuse to allow a disabled person to make reasonable accommodations to his/her dwelling
- Threaten or interfere with anyone making a fair housing complaint
- Refuse to provide municipal services, property insurance or hazard insurance for dwellings, or providing such services or insurance differently
What You Should Do
When reporting a complaint, be sure to include the following information:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the person your complaint is against
- The address of the housing involved
- A short description of the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated
- The date(s) of the alleged violation
To reach the local HUD office in your area, call 1-800-669-9777, TDD 1-800-927-9275 or visit HUD.gov.
To identify the private housing enforcement office in your area, call 202-898-1661 or visit the National Fair Housing Alliance.
You have the right to fair housing. It’s not an option. It’s the law.