Fair Housing

It is important to understand the basic rights granted to tenants under HUD’s fair housing laws. The Fair Housing Act regulates that everyone has the legal right to obtain housing free from discrimination. Fair housing laws apply to both individuals and families whether they are voucher holders or not. There are federal, state, and local fair housing laws that protect tenants from discrimination based on the following criteria:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Familial Status such as families with children and pregnant women

Additionally, HUD has protected classes for:

  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • Marital Status

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is against the law for landlords or property managers to:

  • Refuse to rent or negotiate because of a person’s protected status.
  • Impose different terms or conditions because of a person’s protected status.
  • Make discriminatory statements or publish discriminatory communications.
  • Lie about the availability of a dwelling because of a person’s protected status.
  • Coerce or intimidate an applicant who has filed a fair housing complaint.
  • Guide renters to a particular area based on the racial or ethnic characteristics of residents of the building or neighborhood.

Fair housing laws do not require an landlord must rent to simply anyone, so it is possible for an landlord to choose not rent to an HCV participant, however, it does require that landlords apply the same qualifying criteria to all prospective tenants. This means that if an landlord does choose to rent to HCV tenants, they are required to apply the same selection criteria to them as they would a tenant who is not a participant.

Landlords also have the right to screen all applicants, HCV or not, however they see fit as long as the screening process falls within legal guidelines, the Fair Housing Act, and local regulations or procedures.