Stating a discriminatory preference in an advertisement for real estate is illegal.
Real estate advertising is covered by:
Fair Housing Laws
Federal, state and local laws affect us all. The statutes listed below have withstood Constitutional tests. They do not reduce the right of free speech nor do they legislate attitudes. What they do is protect one aspect of our freedom, by prescribing punishment for behaviors that violate our rights to exercise choice in where we live.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1866 - States that "all citizens of the United States shall have the same right as is enjoyed by white citizens to inherit, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property.
- Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act - (The Fair Housing Act) - Banned housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion and national origin in most housing transactions.
- The Fair Housing Amendments Acts of 1988 - Added families with children and people with disabilities as protected classes and strengthened the enforcement mechanism. Section 818 under this law makes it unlawful to coerce, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise of fair housing rights.
What is prohibited?
In the case of purchasing or renting housing: no one can take the following actions for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or disability or other locally protected class:
- Deny renting or selling housing
- Establish terms, conditions, or privileges different for the sale or rental of housing
- Provide different services or utilities
- Falsely deny the availability of housing for inspection, sale or rental
Prohibition on Discriminatory advertising:
The Federal Fair Housing Act provides that:
It shall be unlawful . . . to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.
Fair Housing advertising guidelines
- Describe the structure (i.e., 2 story, 3 bedrooms, etc) not the people who may reside in the structure;
- Describe amenities: fireplace, swimming pool, tennis courts, eat in kitchen;
- Use neutral language: quiet cul-de-sac, well-maintained home, etc.;
- No explicit limitations based on religion, race, color, national origin
- No explicit limitations based on sex, disability/handicap, or family status;
- No explicit limitation based on ancestry, or military status (State of Ohio);
- No explicit limitation based on age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression (City of Dayton); - be sure to check your local laws
- Don't use phrases that deter inspection or application by protected classes including people with disabilities
Additional links to information
Fair Housing Words & Phrase List:
HUD's Guidance on internet advertising:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development link for EHO Logo
The Achtenberg Memorandum: HUD Guidance on advertising roommates and other protected classes: http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/disabilities/sect804achtenberg.pdf
The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center has additional information on fair housing advertising available at: www.mvfairhousing.com