Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and handicap (disability).
The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. The Federal Act (not the state) exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members. For all other housing, no one, including an agent, 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.
The Fair Housing Act also places restrictions on residential mortgage lending. No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):
- Refuse to make a mortgage loan
- Refuse to provide information regarding loans
- Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
- Discriminate in appraising property
- Refuse to purchase a loan or
- Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.
In addition to these specific restrictions, it is illegal under the Act to threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a Fair Housing right or assisting others who exercise that right. It is also illegal to 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 and plays a large role in real estate advertising.