Skip to Content

News & Resources

The Fair Housing Act in the US and Pennsylvania

7/31/2015 | Real Estate Blog

We are wrapping up our discussion of the federal Fair Housing Act and the types of actions it prohibits. When we left off in our July 24 post, we were talking about what landlords, lenders, sellers and others cannot do. Discrimination is more than slamming the door in a renter’s face solely because he is African American. It is more than a lender telling a loan applicant that the bank does not, as a rule, lend to Muslims.

Housing providers (for lack of a better collective term) are also barred from setting different terms for different types of people. A landlord may not charge a family more for a one-bedroom apartment than he or she would charge a single person. A banker may not increase the interest rate or shorten the term of a loan for an applicant who is a member of a protected class. Nor can a seller, landlord, or lender tell an applicant that the property is not available for sale or rent or, for that matter, inspection when, in fact, it is.

When working with people with disabilities, housing providers must follow an additional set of anti-discrimination laws. Here, landlords especially must be careful when considering requests for modifications to the unit or common areas, or, for that matter, to the policies governing the community. For example, a landlord may not refuse to install a handheld shower head for a person with a disability. A landlord must make an exception to a “no pets” rule for a blind person with a guide dog.

There are exceptions to these rules, of course, and we will get into some of them in our next post.

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Fair Housing: It’s Your Right,” accessed July 20, 2015