Fair Housing Law

The recent case of a lawsuit against a Tampa area real estate agent for a violation of the US Fair Housing Act in the public remarks on their listing prompted me to blog about this law and what it means for real estate buyers.

The Fair Housing Act states, in the sale and rental of housing: No one (Realtors or property owners) may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
In other words, in best practice, Realtors are allowed to discuss the property attributes ONLY.  Common questions Realtors cannot give an opinion on are:
  • Is it a safe/low-crime neighborhood?
  • Is a neighborhood good for children?
  • Is it a good family neighborhood?
  • Would a neighborhood be good for a single female?


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