Is source of income a protected class?

As of this writing, source of income is not a protected class under the federal Fair Housing Act. However, in some states, cities, and counties, source of income is a protected class. In these jurisdictions housing providers cannot reject an applicant based on where his income comes from as long as the income is from a lawful source. Housing providers covered by fair housing laws need to research state, city, and county regulations applicable to property location to determine fair housing compliance.

State, city, and county laws prohibit housing discrimination against lawful sources of income such as:

  • Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Social Security benefits
  • Veterans benefits
  • Alimony
  • Child support payments
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Housing providers should research applicable laws for their property locations. A housing provider should review his rental policies for potentially discriminatory policies that: require a job; require pay stubs for employment verifications; express restrictions or limitations on source of income in advertising a vacancy; or set different terms and conditions for tenancy based upon source of income or benefits.

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