The Fair Housing Act (FHA) was enacted in 1968 as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The FHA is typically included in the group of ‘fair lending laws.’
The FHA requires that “No person shall be subjected to discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin in the sale, rental, or advertising of dwellings, in the provision of brokerage services, or in the availability of residential real estate-related transactions.” Although they are not parallel, the FHA has similar protections as those included in the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA); however, where the ECOA’s coverage is targeted at credit applications and credit account processes, the FHA covers “discrimination related to the sale or rental of dwellings, the provision of services in connection therewith, and the availability of residential real estate-related transactions [emphasis added].”
Discrimination in Housing and Residential Real Estate-Related Transactions – The FHA makes it unlawful for anyone to discriminate against any person in housing or residential real estate-related transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. The grounds for discrimination include prohibited methods of interference, coercion and intimidation.
Complaints – The FHA provides for investigation and resolution of complaints based on alleged discriminatory housing practices because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin occurring at any time; and alleged discriminatory housing practices because of handicap or familial status occurring on or after March 12, 1989. Complaints alleging housing or real estate-related discrimination can be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Depending on the nature of the complaint, the issue may be referred to another federal or state agency for investigation and resolution.
Advertising Requirements – Generally, persons covered by the FHA must use an appropriate logo or word phrase in advertisements or promotions of transactions and services covered by FHA, for instance, “Equal Housing Lender” or the logotype for equal housing.
Fair Housing Poster – The FHA requires certain persons offering a dwelling for sale or rental to post and maintain the fair housing poster prescribed by the FHA at all their places of business which participate in the covered activities.