LGBTQ+ Rights to Fair Housing

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits the denial of housing to a person based on the person's membership in one or more of the classes protected under the Act. The protected classes are race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status, and handicap. It is therefore illegal to discriminate against a person in the provision of housing because of a person's membership in a protected class in the following situations:

  • the sale or rental of most housing;
  • the terms, conditions, privileges of sale or rental, or provision of services or facilities in connection with the sale or rental of most housing;
  • the advertising of a sale or rental of housing
  • the representation of the availability of housing for rental or sale.
  • the provision of reasonable modification to a dwelling for persons with a handicap at their expense when necessary for the full use and enjoyment of the dwelling;
  • the provision of reasonable accommodation to the rules, policies, practices, or services when necessary to provide persons with a handicap the equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling;
  • the financing or refinancing of housing; and,
  • the provision of real estate brokerage services.

In addition, it is illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with a person in the exercise of enjoyment of rights provided by the Fair Housing Act or because a person helped others to enjoy rights provided or protected by the Act.

"The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

- President Biden Executive Order 13988

Examples of illegal discrimination under the Federal Fair Housing Act based upon protected class membership are:

  • False denial of availability
    • Advertising that there are no available units, when in fact there are, because of class membership.
      • "Sorry we just rented the last unit."
  • Refusal to deal
    • Refusing to rent, sell, or even negotiate with a person because of class membership.
      • "My faith won't allow me to rent to a couple with your lifestyle."
  • Discriminatory terms and conditions and provision of services or facilities
    • Giving less favorable terms in sales or rental agreements because of class membership.
      • The rent is $200 higher for persons with a handicap or persons with friends with a handicap."
  • Discriminatory Advertising
    • Indicating any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of class membership.
      • "No same-sex couples need apply."
  • Financial Discrimination
    • Denying any type of home loan for discriminatory reasons by lenders, including banks, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, and others, or giving less favorable loan terms because of class membership.
      • "Minorities must be charged higher interest on loans than similar white homeowners."
  • Blockbusting
    • Getting a homeowner to sell by stating that minority homeowners moving into the area will cause the property values to decline.
      • "Why don't you let me sell your house? After all with your minority neighbors moving in, if you don't sell soon, your property value will go down."
  • Refusing reasonable modification to the unit at the expense of the person with a handicap, so that the person may have full enjoyment of the unit.
    • "You may not install grab bars in the bathroom."
  • Denying reasonable accommodation to the rules and regulations of rental, so that the person with handicap may have equal opportunity to use and fully enjoy their unit.
      • "It's against the rules to have another person live with you, even though there is enough room and the person is necessary to help you with your health needs."

The Fair Housing Project

West Tennessee Legal Services is available to provide information concerning a person's rights under the Federal Fair Housing Act. If you believe you are a victim of discrimination in housing, contact us at 800.372.8346 or 731.423.0616 for assistance. When necessary, staff can assist you in filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or other appropriate administrative or judicial bodies.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in a housing situation, please fill out and return the reply card attached to this brochure. A housing counselor will discuss the situation with you and help you to decide what to do next. Your response to us will be kept confidential.

"The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication: Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government."

For more information or to apply for assistance:

West Tennessee Legal Services

Toll Free: 1-800-372-8346 ext. 1250

Fax: 731-423-2600


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