Are You a Victim of Housing Discrimination?

Authored By: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc.


What are fair housing laws?

Fair Housing laws protect you from discrimination in housing.

What is illegal discrimination in housing?

It is illegal to discriminate in housing based on someone's:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Sex (includes sexual harassment)
  • Religion
  • Disability (physical, mental, developmental, or HIV-related disabilities)
  • Familial status (having kids under the age of 18, being pregnant, or being a single father)

Some local laws provide even more protection.  For example, in some places the local laws make it illegal to discriminate based upon someone's marital status, sexual preference, age, wealth, or source of income.  You may have more protection than just those areas listed above.

When do these laws apply? 

  • Renting
  • Buying
  • Advertising
  • Financing
  • Purchasing property
  • Insurance
  • Building accessible housing
  • Harassment of a person enforcing fair housing rights is also not allowed

What are some examples of housing discrimination?

  • There is a “for rent” sign but you're told you can't see the apartment.
  • The owner tells you that your children must have separate bedrooms.
  • The manager takes your application and promises to call you, but your phone never rings.
  • You have a service animal (such as a guide dog) and you are told “no pets allowed.”
  • The real estate agent steers you away from the neighborhood you requested.
  • Your condo or homeowners association won’t let you make physical changes to your unit to meet your disability, such as installing a ramp after you've had a stroke.
  • You are told that all first floor units are rented and children aren’t allowed on the upper floors.
  • A lender imposes different terms and conditions on a mortgage loan (such as interest rates or application procedures).
  • Your landlord threatens to evict you if you do not have sex with him/her.

What should I do if I experience housing discrimination?

If you experience housing discrimination:

  • Keep notes:  write down what happened, when, where, and who was there.
  • Keep things that have to do with the discrimination:  all papers (leases, receipts, applications, letters of denial), and other things like e-mails, text messages, voice mails, and photographs. 
  • SPECIAL NOTE:  It is a felony in Florida to record someone without their permission.  Save text messages or voice messages (people know that they are being recorded when leaving messages). 

How do I report housing discrimination?

  • You can contact an agency funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the reporting of housing discrimination.  To find one near you, search the list here
  • You can file an online complaint or contact your regional HUD office by following this link
  • You may contact:
  • You do not have to report the discrimination by yourself.  If you have been the victim of housing discrimination you may also be able to sue the person responsible in state or federal court.  Contact a lawyer as soon as you suspect discrimination.  Keep anything that you have received in writing or any voicemails that might relate to the behavior that you suspect is based upon discrimination. 
    • It is best to be represented by an attorney who has experience in civil rights litigation.  When researching lawyers ask about what experience they have in this area of the law. 

Updated April 18, 2017 

How helpful do you find the information on this page?

Add comment

Table of Contents