What Is the Fair Housing Act?


Quick Answer

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is known as the Fair Housing Act. It prohibits discrimination by housing providers against individuals based on disability, familial status, national origin, race or color, religion or sex.

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Full Answer

The anti-discriminatory measures apply to landlords, real estate companies, municipalities, banks and other lending institutions and homeowners insurance companies.

Infringements of the act include refusing to rent or sell housing, declining to negotiate the price of housing, setting different conditions, terms or privileges in the sale or rental of a dwelling, and providing different services or facilities to inhabitants. Other infringements are falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental, persuading owners to rent or sell, and denying access to or membership in a facility or service related to the rental or sale of a dwelling.

The Act is enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice Housing & Civil Enforcement Section, which follows specific procedures in handling complaints of discrimination. In addition to awarding punitive damages to the affected party, civil penalties up to $25,000 or $50,000 may be imposed upon the violator by an administrative law judge, with additional fines ordered against repeat offenders.

In cases where force or the threat of force is used to interfere with housing rights, criminal proceedings may be instituted against those deemed to be in violation.

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