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What is Fair Housing?

Updated: Feb 27, 2018

What is fair housing?

Fair housing is short for the Fair Housing Act. This Act was established in 1968—one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The purpose of the Act is to stop discriminatory practices as it relates to housing. It protects seven classes of people from being discriminated against:

  1. Color

  2. Disability

  3. Familial Status – children, under 18, in the house. This includes pregnant women.

  4. National Origin

  5. Race

  6. Religion

  7. Sex

What is the purpose of the Fair Housing Act?

The purpose of this Act was to eliminate discrimination in three areas:

(1) renting and selling; (2) mortgage lending; and (3) advertisement of property.

The Act aims to eliminate discrimination in the following ways, as it relates to renting and selling.

  • Refusing to rent, sell or negotiate for housing.

  • Lie or make housing unavailable.

  • Deny housing.

  • Establish different terms and/or conditions for buying, selling or renting.

  • Blockbustering (manipulating someone to rent or sell their home at a lower price by convincing them that minorities are moving into the neighborhood).

  • Denying participation in housing-related services.

The Act's goals is to stop the following discriminatory mortgage lending practices:

  • Refusing to make or purchase a mortgage loan.

  • Setting different terms and conditions of the loans like interest rates and/or fees.

  • Refusing to make information regarding the loan available.

  • Any discriminatory practices in property appraising.

Finally, the third set of discriminatory practices the Act aims to eliminate is in advertisement of property to a certain class or group of people. The Act makes it illegal to make discriminatory statements or advertise your property in a way that indicates you’d prefer a person with certain attributes or that you’re excluding a certain protected class.

Why is fair housing important?

There are four reasons why the Fair Housing Act’s goal of ensuring equal access is important. The first reason is it ensures that all people have access to the housing of their choice—which they can afford. The second is it ensures quality of life because home ownership is fundamental to one’s success in their community, through financial security and access to opportunities. But that’s not it. Equal housing affects social and communal amenities as well, such as schools, employment, transportation, medical and recreational services. The third reason is fair housing promotes integration, which supports the American principle that “all men are created equal.” Fourth and finally, fair housing is the right of every single American. Meaning, every American should have the opportunity to experience the joy and responsibility of owning a home.

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