Overview of the Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing and residential real estate-related transactions, including renting or buying a home or applying for a mortgage. Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate because of the following protected characteristics: race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status (including residing with children under 18, pregnancy, and adoption), and disability.
The Fair Housing Act covers nearly all housing in the United States, including private housing, market-rate housing, public housing, and subsidized housing. It covers: “any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families, and any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure, or portion thereof,” although there are a small number of rare and limited exceptions.