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Policy on Discrimination in Housing/Real Estate Advertising
We strongly support the local, state and federal fair housing statutes and encourage you to read more
about your rights as a prospective renter, home buyer or roommate. All potential home buyers or renters
are hereby informed that all housing advertised is available on an equal opportunity basis and does not
discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, handicap or familial status.
When posting an ad in print or on our websites, you must comply with section 3604(c) of the Federal Fair
Housing Act. This law prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing and details other prohibited
practices. This statute prohibits stating, in any notice or ad for the sale or rental of a dwelling, a
discriminatory preference based on any of the following protected categories:
• National Origin
• Familial Status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians;
pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18).
• Handicap / Disability
The Fair Housing Act provides additional protections, and limited exceptions, that are explained in
publications from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") and the Department of
HUD has issued guidance on advertising rental properties, properties for sale and roommates.
State and local laws often prohibit discrimination based on additional criteria (e.g. sexual orientation, age,
marital status, or source of income). Please contact your state’s Housing Authority in order to find out
more about the specific laws in your state.
You may report housing discrimination to HUD at 1-800-669-9777, or to a fair housing advocate near you.
If you encounter a housing posting on this website or any other Target Media Partners site or publication
that you believe violates the Fair Housing laws, please contact us via phone or e-mail.
• What are the laws for roommates and shared housing?
• Are there any exceptions to the advertising laws?
• What are the protected categories in my area?
• What does familial status mean?
• Who is exempted from laws prohibiting familial status discrimination?
• How does the law define handicap?
• What should I do if I find a discriminatory posting?
• Recognizing a discriminatory posting
• Examples of Discriminatory Advertisements
• Other Resources
|What are the laws for roommates and shared housing?||[top]
Federal Fair Housing laws for roommates and shared housing have two components: advertising and
• Advertising: Federal Fair Housing laws prohibit discriminatory advertising in all housing, regardless of
how large or small the property. However, as discussed below, advertising which expresses a
preference based upon sex is allowed in shared living situations where tenants will share a
bathroom, kitchen, and/or other common area(s).
• Decision-making: Although the prohibition on discriminatory advertising applies to roommate and
shared housing situations, federal Fair Housing laws do not cover the basis of decisions made by
landowners who own less than four units, and live in one of the units. This means that in a situation
in which a landlord owns less than four rental units, and lives in one of the units, it is legal for the
owner to discriminate in the selection process based on the aforementioned categories, but it is
illegal for that owner to advertise or otherwise make a statement expressing that discriminatory
|Are there any exceptions to the advertising laws?||[top]
Under federal Fair Housing law, the prohibition on discriminatory advertisements applies to all situations
except the following:
• Housing Exemption - If you are advertising a shared housing unit, in which tenants will be
sharing a bathroom, kitchen, or other common area (s), you may express a preference based upon
• Private Club and Religious Exemptions - A religious community or private club whose membership is
not restricted based upon race, color, or national origin may restrict tenancy only to its members in a
property that it owns, and may advertise to that effect.
• Housing for Older Persons Exemption - As discussed below, certain types of housing for elderly
persons are exempt from prohibitions on familial status discrimination, including the prohibitions on
discriminatory advertising as it relates to familial status.
|What are the protected categories in my area?||[top]
The "protected categories" under state and local Fair Housing laws may differ depending on where you
reside. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on the following protected categories:
• National Origin
• Handicap / Disability
• Familial Status
State and local laws may offer additional anti-discrimination protections to other categories, such as age,
marital status, or sexual orientation.
|What is familial status?||[top]
"Familial status" means the presence of one or more children under the age of 18. Unless otherwise
exempted, it is illegal to:
• discriminate against households with children
• discourage families with children from renting a unit or purchasing property
• restrict or steer households with children to a particular area of an apartment complex
• establish rules, regulations, or policies that discriminate or have a disparate impact on households
• discriminate against pregnant women
• discriminate against anyone in process of securing legal custody of a child under age 18 (including
adoption and foster parents)
|Who is exempted from laws prohibiting familial status discrimination?||[top]
Under federal Fair Housing laws, "housing for older persons" is exempted from the prohibitions on "familial
status" discrimination. Please refer to the HUD site for more information. "Housing for older persons" is
defined as either of the following.
Housing occupied solely by persons 62 years of age or older; or
Housing in which 80% of the occupied units have at least one person 55 years of age or older, and which
meet additional other requirements.
This exemption applies only to familial status discrimination; discrimination against all other protected
categories, including disability, is prohibited in housing for older persons.
|How does the law define handicap?||[top]
Federal law defines "handicap" as any "physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or
more of [a] person's major life activities, a record of having such an impairment, or being regarded as
having such an impairment." Further discussion of the definition of "handicap" can be found in the section
100.201 of Title 24 of the Code of Federal Regulations (24 C.F.R. 100.201). Your state may have additional
laws with broader definitions of "handicap."
|What should I do if I find a discriminatory posting?||[top]
If you find a housing or real estate posting on this site or any other Target Media Partners website or print
publication that you believe violates the Fair Housing laws, please contact us via e-mail or phone. If it is
unclear whether the ad violates the Fair Housing act, please contact HUD or your local Fair Housing center.
If you have experienced discrimination after contacting a seller, landlord or potential roommate based on
one of the protected categories, you may file a claim with HUD or your local Fair Housing center as well.
|Recognizing a discriminatory posting||[top]
An ad is discriminatory if it expresses a restriction, limitation or preference based on one of the protected
categories There may be additional protected categories based on local and state laws; however they will
always include the seven federal categories. An ad is discriminatory if it uses language that might be
discouraging towards a certain protected category. For instance, saying that a particular small apartment is
"perfect for a single or couple" could be discouraging to families with children, who do not fit within the
stated groups. Discriminatory postings are illegal even if they are unintentional. An ad is discriminatory if it
uses language that might have a disparate, or disproportional, impact on a certain protected category. For
instance, an advertisement for a 2 bedroom apartment that states a preference for "2 persons only" might
have a disparate impact on families with children. Although it does not explicitly state a preference based
on familial status, it creates an overly restrictive occupancy limit which would affect families with children to
a greater extent than other types of households. (For more information on reasonable occupancy limits,
see HUD's guidance on occupancy standards.)
|Examples of Discriminatory Advertisements||[top]
The following are just a few examples of what constitutes discriminatory ads:
1. race / color
• stating a preference for the race of a desired applicant (e.g., "no blacks," "whites only," etc)
• describing the race of current occupants of the complex or neighborhood (e.g., "African-American
neighborhood," "most residents are Asian," "lots of Hispanic families," etc)
• stating a preference for the religion of a desired applicant (e.g., "Christians only," "no Muslims," etc)
• describing the religion of current occupants of the complex or neighborhood (e.g., "nice, Christian
neighborhood," "Jewish family seeks roommate," etc)
3. national origin
• stating a preference for a certain national origin (e.g., "no immigrants," "no foreigners," "Irish
• posted only in a language other than English
• describing the national origin of current occupants of the complex or neighborhood (e.g.,
"predominately Latino neighborhood," "mostly Asian residents," etc)
4. handicap / disability
• stating a physical or mental state preference for tenants (e.g., "no wheelchairs," "must be able to live
• describing the unit or environment as unable to accommodate people with disabilities (e.g., "units are
not accessible", "no pets, even service dogs", etc)
5. familial status
• stating a preference for families without children (e.g., "no children," "no kids and no pets," "single
occupancy only," etc)
• discouraging families with children (e.g. "ideal for working professionals," "perfect for single or
couple," "nice, quiet, mature, neighborhood," etc)
6. sex / gender *
• stating a preference for one gender except in a roommate or shared housing situation (e.g., "no
young men," "female preferred," etc)
• National Fair Housing Alliance - a national organization dedicated to ending discrimination in housing
• National Fair Housing Advocate - an online resource for fair housing advocates and public on issues
relating to housing discrimination
• Housing.org - the official site of Project Sentinel, one of the country's largest fair housing centers
• U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)- the federal agency charged with
investigating claims of housing discrimination
• Guidance on advertising - published by HUD
Please refer to the actual laws or your local Fair Housing center for more information of local laws.
Please let us know if you have any additional questions or if you find that our information is incorrect or out