Fair Housing

The Fair Housing Act and Discrimination

Both the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Texas Fair Housing Act make it illegal to deny someone housing solely because of color, race, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or your familial status (children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18).

Below is basic information about fair housing requirements. Please reference the useful resources links to the right for further information.

  • Housing Covered by the Fair Housing Act

    The Fair Housing Act applies to all housing, in both public and private communities. The Act makes exceptions for the following:

    • Owner-occupied buildings of four units or less
    • Single-family homes sold or rented without the use of a broker
    • Housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members
  • Practices Prohibited Under the Fair Housing Act

    The following unfair or illegal housing practices are prohibited:

    • Refusing to rent or sell housing
    • Refusing to negotiate for housing
    • Making housing unavailable
    • Otherwise deny a dwelling
    • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
    • Provide different housing services or facilities
    • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
    • For profit, persuade, or try to persuade homeowners to sell or rent dwellings by suggesting that people of a particular protected class have moved or about to move into the neighborhood. This is known as “blockbusting.”
    • Deny any person access to or membership in a facility or service (such as multiple listing services) related to the sale or rental of housing
    • Deny Property insurance
  • Fair Housing and Home Buying

    The following home buying process practices are unfair or illegal under the Fair Housing Act:

    • Refusing to make a mortgage loan
    • Refusing to provide information regarding loans
    • Imposing different terms or confiscations on a loan such as different interest rates, points or fees
    • Discriminating in appraising property
    • Refusing to purchase a loan
    • Setting different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan
    • Threatening, coercing, intimidating or interfering with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that rights
    • Making, printing, or publishing any statement, in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling, which indicates a preference, limitation or discrimination based on a protected class. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
    • Refusing to provide homeowners insurance coverage for a dwelling because of the race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin of the owner and/or occupants of a dwelling.
    • Discriminating in the terms or conditions of homeowners
    • Refusing to provide available information on the full range of homeowners insurance coverage options available because of the race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin of the owner and/or occupants of a dwelling.
    • Making, printing or publishing any statement, in connection with the provision of homeowners insurance coverage, that indicates preference or limitation based on the protected class.
  • Fair Housing and Persons with Disabilities

    The 1998 Federal Fair Housing Act amendment added the following accessibility requirements for construction of all multifamily housing of four or more units first occupied after March 13, 1991. These requirements only apply to ground floor units if the building does not have an elevator. 

    • Public and common areas must be accessible and usable for persons with disabilities
    • All doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
    • All units must have the following (1) an accessible route through the unit; (2) accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls; (3) reinforced walls in bathrooms to allow for installation of grab bars; and (4) kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.

    Reasonable Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

    A housing provider may not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services if it may be necessary for a client to use the housing on an equal basis with nondisabled persons.

    Reasonable Modifications for Persons with Disabilities

    Housing providers may not refuse to let persons with disabilities make reasonable modifications to dwellings or common areas at their own expense in order for them to fully use the housing. Where it is reasonable, a landlord may permit changes only if the occupant restores the property to its original condition she or he moves, except for common areas.

  • Fair Housing and Senior Housing

    The Fair Housing Act specifically exempts some senior housing facilities and communities from familial status discrimination. Exempt senior housing facilities or communities can lawfully refuse to sell or rent dwellings to families with minor children.

    A facility or community must prove the following to be exempts from familial status discrimination:

    • The facility or community is provided under a state or federal program that HUD has determined to be specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons; or
    • The facility or community is intended for and solely occupied by persons 62 years of age or older; or
    • The facility or community is intended for and operated for occupancy by persons 55 years of age or older if (1) at least 80 percent of the units have at least one occupant who is 55 years of age or older and (2) the facility or community publishes and adheres to policies and procedures that demonstrate the intent to operate as 55 or older housing; and (3) the facility or community complies with HUD’s regulatory requirements for age verification of residents.
  • If You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated

    The Civil Rights Division of the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division (TWCCRD) enforces the Texas Fair Housing Act. Complaints are investigated by TWCCRD and coordinated with The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

    The TWCCRD will help you with any problem of housing discrimination. You have one year after an alleged violation to file a complaint, but you should file it as soon as possible. Be prepared to provide the following information:

    • Your name and address
    • The name and address of the person your complaint is against (the Respondent)
    • The address or other identification of the housing involved
    • A short description of the alleged violation (the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated)
    • The date(s) of the alleged violation

    To file a complaint, you may call the office directly at (888) 452-4778 or (512) 463-2642, or write to:

    Texas Workforce Commission
    Civil Rights Division
    1117 Trinity Street, Room 144-T
    Austin, Texas 78701

    TWCCRD also provides a TTY phone for the deaf/hearing impaired users at (512)371-7473 and assistance in reading and completing forms.