Fair Housing Information Center
Your Fair Housing Rights
You have a right to live where you want and can afford to live. The laws that protect your rights are Fair Housing Laws.
Everyone who lives in the United States is protected from discrimination in housing. This includes the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings; lending; home appraisal; insurance and accessibility.
Under Federal Fair Housing laws, fair housing means you are free to choose a place to live without regard to your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity, disability or familial status. Under Delaware Fair Housing laws, you are also protected without regard to your marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, age and source of income.
What is housing discrimination?
Housing discrimination is treating one person or group of people differently from others on the basis of their belonging to a protected class. The term “protected class” refers to a group of people who are protected by law against illegal discrimination. A protected class is named for the characteristic that people share, such as their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or national origin.
Housing discrimination can often be subtle, and can come in many forms. Some signs of possible discrimination include:
- A landlord refuses to show or rent available housing
- A real estate agent steers you to racially segregated neighborhoods during your home search
- Being told that a unit or apartment building isn’t “right” for you and your family
- Housing advertisements that say “no kids” or “professionals preferred”
- Refusing to make or respond to a request for a reasonable accommodation or to allow a reasonable modification to enable a person with a disability to make full use of a dwelling
- Requiring different terms and conditions for identical properties, for example, charging higher rent or a higher security deposit for different tenants
- Harassment or intimidation
Housing discrimination may not be as obvious to see as it used to be, but it still exists. HUD estimates that nearly 2,000,000 acts of housing discrimination occur each year, but only 1% of fair housing violations are ever reported.
Learn some signs of housing discrimination here.
Who is protected under Fair Housing laws?
Fair Housing laws protect YOU!
Federal Fair Housing laws cover seven protected classes. Delaware’s Fair Housing laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of six additional protected classes. That means Delaware’s Fair Housing laws cover a total of 13 protected classes.
Delaware’s protected classes:
- National Origin
- Familial Status
- Sex (Federal protections now include sexual orientation and gender identity)
- Disability Status
Additional Protected Classes Covered Under State Law:
What actions are illegal?
It is illegal for anyone to:
- Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, disability, familial status, marital status, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, creed or source of income. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to all housing, including single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Delaware Fair Housing Act.
- Harass, coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise their fair housing rights
Under the Delaware Fair Housing Act, no one may take any of the following actions in the sale and rental of housing or in mortgage lending based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, familial status, marital status, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, creed or source of income.
In the Sale & Rental of Housing:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Advertise housing to preferred groups of people only, for example, an ad that reads “professionals only”
- Show you or your family apartments or homes in certain neighborhoods only
- Say that housing is unavailable for inspection, sale or rental when in fact it is available
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Provide different housing services or facilities
- Deny access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing
- Refuse to make certain requested modifications or accommodations for persons with a mental or physical disability
In Mortgage Lending:
- Refuse to make a mortgage loan
- Refuse to provide information regarding loans
- Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
- Deny you property insurance
- Conduct property appraisals in a discriminatory manner
- Refuse to purchase your loan
- Set different terms of conditions for purchasing your mortgage loan
See how this family fought housing discrimination here.