What Every REALTOR® Should Know About Fair Housing

Fair Housing

While we are all staying safe by staying home, this ‘new normal’ gives up the opportunity to brush up on our real estate knowledge. In celebration of Fair Housing Month, we thought it would be a good time to refresh our understanding of what Fair Housing means, and how vital it is to know the facts in today’s real estate market. 

The Law on Fair Housing:

  • The Fair Housing Act declares a national policy of fair housing throughout the United States. The law makes any discrimination illegal in regards to the sale, lease or rental of housing, or making housing otherwise unavailble due to race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national orgin. 

Other laws in regards to Fair Housing that are notable include:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act: Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits the discrimination against persons with disabilities in places of public accomodations and commercial facilities. 
  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act: This Act makes discrimination unlawful with respect to any aspect of a credit application on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age or because all or some of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program. 

In addition to the above Acts, there are state and local laws that provide broader coverage and prohibit discrimination based on additional classes that are not covered by the Federal Law. 

Fair Housing Responsibilities

Whether a real estate professional, home seller or home buyer, you have rights and responsibilities under these laws.

As a home seller or landlord, your responsibility and requirement under the law is to ensure that you do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, handicap, marital status or national origin during a sale or when renting a property. You cannot instruct any real estate professional working with you as an agent to convey any restrictions. As REALTORS ®, you are not only bound by the law, but by the NAR’s Code of Ethics. If a home seller or landlord establishes discriminatory terms and conditions, they are breaking the law. It’s important as a REALTOR® to ensure when working with any home seller or landlord, that this is clear right from the beginning. 

If you’re looking to buy or rent a home, you have the right to expect that properties will be available to you without discrimination. You can expect the right to: 

  • Housing in your price range made available without discrimination
  • Equal professional service
  •  The opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices
  • No discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing
  • No discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing 
  • Reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities
  • Non- discriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing or insuring of a dwelling
  • To be free from harassment or intimidation for exercising you fair housing rights. 

As a real estate professional, remember that you are prohibited by law from discriminating in a real estate transaction. If a home seller or landlord requests terms and conditions in terms of a sale or rental agreement that discriminates, as a professional, it is your duty to ensure that you decline, as legally, you are not able to fulfill this request. 

As a REALTOR® and member of the NAR, not only are you bound to the Code of Ethics, which covers the Fair Housing Act in Article 10 of the ethics, but also by Federal and State Law. The NAR has developed resources for REALTORS® that discuss in detail the Fair Housing Act, as well as a recommended list of films, books and podcasts to brush up on your Fair Housing knowledge during the month of April while we all practice social distancing. 


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