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The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status (i.e., presence of children under the age of 18 in the household or pregnancy). The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases. However, discrimination against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person may be covered by the Fair Housing Act if it is based on non-conformity with gender stereotypes.  For example, if a housing provider refuses to rent to an LGBT person because he believes the person acts in a manner that does not conform to his notion of how a person of a particular sex should act, the person may pursue the matter as a violation of the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of sex.

Housing discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS and people perceived to have HIV/AIDS is also illegal under the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of disability discrimination.  See Housing Discrimination because of HIV/AIDS is Illegal.

In addition, housing providers that receive HUD funding or have loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), as well as lenders insured by FHA, are subject to HUD’s Equal Access Rule, which requires equal access to HUD programs without regard to a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

EXAMPLES:

•       A gay man is evicted because his landlord believes he will infect other tenants with HIV/AIDS. This situation constitutes illegal disability discrimination under the Fair Housing Act because the man is perceived to have a disability, HIV/AIDS.

•       A transgender woman is asked by the owner of her apartment building not to dress in women’s clothing in the common areas of the property. This is a violation of the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of sex discrimination.

•       A property manager refuses to rent an apartment to a prospective tenant who is transgender. If the housing denial is because of the prospective tenant's non-conformity with gender stereotypes, it constitutes illegal discrimination on the basis of sex under the Fair Housing Act.

•       A female prospective tenant alleges that a landlord refused to rent to her because she wears masculine clothes and engages in other physical expressions that are stereotypically male.  If true, this may violate the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of discrimination based on sex.  

•       An underwriter for an FHA-insured lender is reviewing a loan application by two males; both incomes are being used as the basis for the applicants’ credit worthiness.  The underwriter assumes the applicants are a gay couple and, as a result, denies the application despite the fact that the applicants meet all requirements for the loan.  This violates HUD’s Equal Access Rule, which prohibits FHA-insured lenders from taking actual or perceived sexual orientation into consideration in determining adequacy of an applicant’s income.

If you believe you have experienced (or are about to experience) housing discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability, you may contact HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for help at (800) 669-9777. You may also file a housing discrimination complaint online.

Additionally you may contact your local HUD officefor assistance with alleged violations of HUD’s Equal Access Rule and other program regulations.

Finally, many state, city, and county laws specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.  You may wish to contact your state or local human rights agency to determine coverage under those laws.

 

 

 

State

Bans sexual
orientation
housing

discrimination

Bans gender
identity/
expression
housing
discrimination

Enforcement Agency

California

X

X

California Department of Fair Employment & Housing - (213) 439-6703

Connecticut

X

 

X

 

Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities
(860) 541-3400

Colorado

X

X

Colorado Civil Rights Division
(303) 894-2997

Delaware

X

 

Delaware Division of Human Relations
(302)739-2207

District of Columbia

X

X

District of Columbia Office of Human Rights - (202) 727-4559

Hawaii

X

X

Hawaii Civil Rights Commission
(808)586-8636

Illinois

X

X

Illinois Department of Human Rights
(312) 814-6200

Iowa

X

X

Iowa Civil Rights Commission
(512) 281-4121

Maine

X

X

Maine Human Rights Commission
(207) 624-6050

Maryland

X

 

Maryland Commission on Human Relations (410) 767-8563

Massachusetts

X

 

X

 

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination - (617) 727-3990

Minnesota

X

X

Minnesota Department of Human Rights
(800) 657-3704

Nevada X X

Nevada Equal Rights Commission
(775) 684-3849

 

New Jersey

X

X

New Jersey Division on Civil Rights
(609) 984-3100

New Hampshire

X

 

New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights - (603) 271-2767

New Mexico

X

X

New Mexico Human Rights Bureau
(800) 566-9471

New York

X

 

New York State Division of Human Rights
(718) 741-8440

Oregon

X

X

Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries
(971) 673-0792

Rhode Island

X

X

Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights - (401) 222-2661

Washington

X

X

Washington State Human Rights Commission - (360) 753-6770

Vermont

X

X

Vermont Human Rights Commission
(802) 828-2480

Wisconsin

X

 

 

Wisconsin Equal Rights Division
(608) 266-6860