The Fair Housing Act Turns 50

Real Estate

April 11, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing by entities such as landlords, real estate companies, and lending institutions.  When first enacted, the Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  A 1988 amendment expanded coverage to prohibit discrimination based on disability or familial status.

Methods of discrimination can be wide-ranging and either overt or covert.  A few examples of discrimination tactics include:

  • providing false or misleading information about housing availability,
  • steering buyers or renters to certain neighborhoods based on race,
  • imposing strict underwriting standards on home loans based on national origin,
  • denying housing to families with children or pregnant women, or
  • failing to design or construct new multi-family dwellings for accessibility by persons with disabilities.


If you have been trying to buy a home or rent an apartment and you believe your civil rights have been violated, you can file a housing discrimination complaint online with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing the Fair Housing Act.