Discriminatory housing advertisements are illegal under the Fair Housing Act and other federal civil rights laws. Note that in HUD’s housing programs, certain types of affirmative fair housing marketing are required by federal law.
What Is Prohibited?
In nearly all housing, including private housing, public housing, and housing that receives federal funding, the Fair Housing Act prohibits the making, printing and publishing of advertisements that indicate a preference, limitation or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, familial status, or national origin. The prohibition applies to publishers, such as newspapers and directories, as well as to persons and entities who place real estate advertisements in newspapers and on websites. It also applies where the advertisement itself violates the Act, even if the property being advertised may be exempt from the provisions of the Act. Other federal civil rights laws may also prohibit discriminatory advertising practices.
Examples of advertising that may violate the Act include phrases such as “no children,” which indicates discrimination on the basis of familial status, or “no wheelchairs,” which indicates disability discrimination.
What Type of Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing May Be Required?
Federal law requires that applicants for participation in HUD’s subsidized and unsubsidized housing programs pursue affirmative fair housing marketing policies. This is to help ensure that individuals of similar income levels in the same housing market area have a like range of housing choices available to them regardless of their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, familial status, or national origin.
Filing a Complaint
If you believe you have experienced housing discrimination involving advertising or marketing, you can file a complaint with HUD.
- Guidance on Compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act in Marketing and Application Processing at Subsidized Multifamily Properties
- HUD Fair Housing Act Advertising Guidelines (former 24 C.F.R. part 109 regulations)
- Memorandum on Guidance Regarding Advertisements Under § 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act
- Equal Housing Opportunity Graphics for Printing