What is the Federal Fair Housing Act?

In 1968 Congress enacted the Federal Fair Housing Act (the "Act"), which is codified in 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 - 3619. The Act makes it unlawful for housing providers to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), and national origin. The Act was amended in 1988 to also prohibit discrimination based on familial status and disability.

The purpose of the law is to protect every American's fundamental right to fair housing-the choices of where to live and whether to own a home, for instance-regardless of factors of race, disability, and the several other protected statuses.

What is considered discrimination under the Act?

The Act recognizes two types of discrimination: (i) discriminatory treatment and (ii) disparate impact. Discriminatory treatment is where the victim is expressly treated differently than others in the community based on his/her protected class. Discrimination through disparate impact occurs when a facially neutral rule has the effect of discriminating against a protected group. Courts have applied the Act to individuals, corporations, and others involved in the provision of housing and residential lending, including homeowners associations and condominium associations.

Who enforces the Act?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") administers and enforces violations of the Act. Periodically, HUD will issues rule and guidelines explaining who is protected under the Act and how the Act is violated.

Helpful Links:

The Fair Housing Act
Basic Facts about the Fair Housing Act
Americans with Disabilities Act
August, 2013 Attorney General Memorandum on the Law Against Discrimination
August, 2013 Attorney General Memorandum on the Law Against Discrimination (español)
REALTOR® Fair Housing Declaration
What Everyone Should Know about Equal Opportunity Housing
Make a Housing Discrimination Complaint Online

HUD Regional Offices For New Jersey and New York:
New York Regional Office of FHEO
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
26 Federal Plaza, Room 3532
New York, New York 10278-0068
(212) 542-7519
(800) 496-4294
TTY (212) 264-0927