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The Fair Housing Act

In 1968, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The law can be found at 42 U.S.C.S. § 3601. In its declaration of purpose, Congress stated the following:

It is the policy of the United States to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States. 42 U.S.C.S. § 3601.

Briefly stated, the FHA prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of:

  • race or color;
  • national origin;
  • religion;
  • sex;
  • familial status; or
  • disability.

The FHA prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings, as well as other housing-related transactions. Landlords, real estate companies, mortgage lending institutions and providers of homeowner’s insurance are all covered by the law.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has power to enforce the provisions of the FHA; however, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charged with the responsibility of investigating individual complaints. The DOJ may initiate suit on behalf of an individual on the basis of a referral by HUD. The language of the FHA itself is broad and inclusive. Accordingly, courts have applied a generous construction when interpreting the provisions of the FHA.

To report a violation or for further information, contact:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development

Office of Fair Housing Opportunity

Room 5204

451 Seventh St. SW

Washington, D.C. 20410-2000

Telephone: 1-800-669-9777

TDD: 1-800-927-9275

Web site:

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.