What Housing is Covered?

Under the Fair Housing Act, most housing is covered. However, there are some exemptions.

Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act:

  • Owner occupied building with no more than four units (such as a duplex where the owner lives in one of the units and rent out the other units).

  •  A religious organization, association or society; or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society; from limiting the sale, rental or occupancy of any dwelling which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose to persons of the same religion or from giving preference to such persons, unless membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color or national origin.

  • A private club not in fact open to the public, which as an incident to its primary purpose or purposes provides lodgings which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose, from limiting the rental or occupancy of such lodgings to its members or from giving preference to its members.

  •  Any single-family house sold or rented by an owner, provided such private individual owner does not own more than three single-family houses at any one time.

  • Single-family homeowners who rent or sell their homes without the use of a real estate professional.

  • Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
    • The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a federal, state or local government program.
    • It is occupied solely be persons who are 62 or older
    • It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older

Property owners who are otherwise exempt from the law must still comply with its prohibition against discrimination in advertising. For example, a single-family homeowner who is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act may not place an ad stating "No children allowed" or "Christians preferred."

Who Enforces the Fair Housing Act?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (OFHEO) enforces the Fair Housing Act and related laws that ensures access to housing.