Could my rental property be exempt from fair housing laws?

While the Fair Housing Act covers most housing, in very limited circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent, and housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

The Act provides an exemption for “Housing for Older Persons” (HOPE) which specifically exempts some senior housing facilities and communities from liability for familial status discrimination. The HOPE exemption does not protect senior housing facilities or communities from liability for housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin.

None of this housing is exempt from section 804(c) of the Act, which states that you cannot make, print or publish a discriminatory statement. Any exempt housing that violates 804(c) has lost that exemption and can be held liable under the Act.

Note that state and local fair housing laws may provide additional fair housing protections or provide other exemptions. While a property may be exempt under the federal Fair Housing Act, that property may not be exempt under state and local fair housing laws. To be sure of your property’s status, you may need to seek legal advice.

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