The Fair Housing Act was put into place as part of the Civil Rights Act in 1968 in attempt to cut back on the discrimination of rental applicants due to their race, sex, handicaps, or any other federally regulated groups of people that fall under the law. Landlords may not choose to deny a potential tenant based on any of these groups, nor may they charge more or discriminate in any way because of it. According to the National Fair Housing Alliance, housing discrimination cases have been reported as the single largest complain under the Fair Housing Act.
The law has limited landlords in the way they advertise for the unit for rent. They must be careful not to use certain language that would limit the types of people that would look at the unit, such as saying that it's near a church or a temple or that it would be great for one group or another, thus potentially discriminating, even if it was not meant to, against another group. It's best to describe the property itself, rather than trying to figure out what the potential renter will be looking for near the property.
There are few exceptions to the rules outlined in the law. In units that share spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens, or common rooms, the landlord may look at the gender of the applicant while making the decision. Another exception is if the property leases to seniors.
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