Fair Housing

Fair housing is the right of individuals and families to access the housing of their choice without being subjected to forms of discrimination prohibited by law. As a landlord, you need to be aware of local, state, and federal laws prohibiting housing discrimination. This chapter will cover fair housing laws and how they apply to you as a housing provider.

Fair Housing Laws

As a housing provider, you need to be familiar with federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws.

Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act

Learn what types of housing do not have to comply with some portions of the Fair Housing Act.


Per Section 804 (c) of the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to make, print, or publish any notice or statement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that includes a preference or limitation based on a protected class. Avoid posting discriminatory statements on social media or in any type of advertising.

Familial Status & Housing for Older Persons

Familial status is a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. It is illegal to discriminate against individuals and families who have minor children in their household, pregnant women, or anyone securing legal custody of a child under the age of 18.

Victims of Domestic Abuse

It is illegal to discriminate against someone due to a history of experiencing domestic violence. Refusing to rent to someone because they have been a victim of domestic violence or stalking violates the Fair Housing Act.


Sexual harassment and harassment based on any of the other state and federally protected classes is illegal under state and federal fair housing laws.

Age Discrimination

In Pennsylvania, age (over 40) is a protected class under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Discriminating against individuals over the age of 40 in housing can result in a complaint being filed against you with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission or in state court.

Source of Income

Source of income is currently not a state or federally protected class. There are several municipalities in Pennsylvania that have added source of income as a protected class in their local jurisdictions.

LGBTQ+ Discrimination

Both the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have stated that they will accept formal complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the broad category of “sex” as a protected class.

Discrimination Based on Religion

As with any other state or federally protected class, it is illegal to show a bias, preference or limitation based on religion. A common fair housing pitfall can occur with newsletters and other written communication concerning religious holidays

National Origin, Immigration Status, and Limited English Proficiency

Every person in the United States is protected by the Fair Housing Act. A person’s immigration status does not affect his or her fair housing rights. It is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their own or ancestral place of origin or because of their cultural or ethnic background or language.

Avoiding Common & Costly Violations

Best practices to avoid common and costly violations of the fair housing act related to disability.

More About Landlord’s Responsibilities in PA