The Fair Housing Act (and amendments) makes it illegal to discriminate in the buying, selling or renting of a home because of a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability. Familial status includes children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under the age of 18.
Examples of Discrimination under the Fair Housing Act
The following are possible examples of discrimination if they occur based on membership in a protected class (race, color, national origin, religion, creed, sex/gender, familial status or a disability):
- Refusing to sell, rent or lease housing to an interested tenant or buyer
- Applying different sale, rental or occupancy terms for different people
- Lying about or misrepresenting the availability of housing when housing is in fact available
- Providing inferior conditions, terms, facilities or privileges in connection with housing
- “Blockbusting” or encouraging people to leave an area based on their protected class
- Refusing to permit reasonable modifications when accommodations may be necessary for a person to use and enjoy their dwelling
- Steering customers to a certain neighborhood, refusing to serve certain customers by real estate professionals
- Redlining or limiting lending in a particular area because of the demographics of that area or imposing different terms or conditions on a loan
- Harassing tenants and homeowners in connection with housing accommodations
- Zoning laws that have an unfair effect on protected classes
Additional Fair Housing Legislation
In addition to the Fair Housing Act, other laws related to fair housing include the following:
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975
- Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Orientation or Gender Identity
- Tennessee Human Rights Act & Disability Act
Fair Housing Complaints & Enforcement
If you or someone you know feels discriminated against when renting, buying or selling a home due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or a disability, you may file a complaint and receive help from the following state or federal agencies.
- HUD investigates complaints of housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex/gender, disability, or familial status. At no cost to you, HUD will investigate the complaint and try to help both parties reach agreement. Click here for more information on Fair Housing enforcement and for the HUD Discrimination Complaint form
- The Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC) accepts fair housing, employment, public accommodations and Title VI complaints for people in Tennessee. To access THRC’s discrimination complaint form, please click here.
- Participants in any of THDA’s programs may choose to submit a complaint regarding discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex/gender, disability, or familial status directly to THDA. For THDA’s complaint process and form, click here. Your complaint may be investigated and answered internally or may be forwarded to the THRC or HUD for investigation and response.
Other Fair Housing Information
Legislation & Rulemaking related to Fair Housing
The Civil Rights Act of 1968, more popularly known as the “Fair Housing Act,” was intended to be a follow up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, initially, the Act was contentiously debated in Congress. The assassination of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968 changed the political dialogue and served to motivate bi-partisan support and passage of the Act a week later on April 11, 1968.
Click here for a more detailed history of the Fair Housing Act from HUD’s Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity Office.
In addition to the Fair Housing Act, other laws and important guidance related to fair housing include the following (select the links to learn more):
- Final Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons (Federal Register/ Vol. 72, No. 13 / January 22, 2007 /Notices)
- Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Orientation or Gender Identity (Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 23 / February 3, 2012 / Rules and Regulations)
- Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Consolidated Planning & Fair Housing
The State of Tennessee, as a recipient of federal block grant funds, is required to take meaningful action to further fair housing choice. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that states and localities that receive community planning and development block grant funding assess the affordable housing and community development needs within their jurisdiction and establish priorities through a Consolidated Plan. THDA serves as the lead agency working collaboratively with other state agencies that are recipients of HUD block grants, the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) and the Department of Health (TDOH), to engage in consolidated planning every five years.
A formal assessment of potential impediments to fair housing choice is completed as part of the Consolidated Planning process. This assessment informs the development of a Fair Housing Plan with actions and strategies to eliminate or reduce the negative effects of the impediments. The Fair Housing Plan is a component of the State of Tennessee 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan.
HUD Housing Timeline
Click on the image below to see the full interactive timeline of HUD’s housing activities from 1930 to 2020.