Fair Housing Overview

The Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents of legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability).The State of Maryland has modeled its laws against housing discrimination on the Fair Housing Act.   It is the policy of the state of Maryland to provide for fair housing for all its inhabitants regardless of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, marital status, disability or sexual orientation "in order that the peace, health, safety, prosperity, and the general welfare of all inhabitants of the State may be protected and insured."

Basic Facts About the Fair Housing Act

(source:  U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development)

What Housing Is Covered?

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What Is Prohibited?

In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • 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 owners to sell or rent (blockbusting); or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

Filing a Discrimination Complaint

If you feel your rights have been violated, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) can assist you.  You can write or call HUD or submit and online discrimination complaint form.  The HUD office for the state of Maryland is:
Fair Housing Hub
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Wanamaker Building
100 Penn Square East, 12th Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107-3380
(215) 656-0663 ext.3260
TTY (215) 656-3450

You may also contact the Fair Housing Assistance Program agency (FHAP) in the state or locality where the alleged discrimination occurred for assistance.  In Maryland, contact:
Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
William Donald-Schafer Towers
6 St. Paul Street, Suite 900
Baltimore, MD 21202
TTY (410) 333-1737

Additional Resources

National Fair Housing Alliance
Equal Rights Center