Fair Housing Laws and Executive Orders

The federal Fair Housing Act, enacted on April 11, 1968, provides the basis for fair housing laws in the United States. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability. For example, it means that a housing professional, such as a landlord or realtor, cannot refuse to rent to a person simply because that person is African American or uses a wheelchair.

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is against the law for a housing professional to:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for the rental or sale of housing
  • Make housing unavailable or deny that housing is available
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for the sale or rental of housing
  • Advertise in a discriminatory way
  • Threaten, coerce or intimidate anyone exercising fair housing rights

The types of housing covered under the Fair Housing Act include apartments, private housing, public housing, condominiums, homeless shelters, mobile home parks, nursing homes and nonprofit housing programs.

link-arrowsRead the Fair Housing Act

In Pennsylvania, the PA Human Relations Act covers a gap in the federal law by making housing discrimination on the basis of age (over 40) illegal. In Pennsylvania, it is also illegal to discriminate against users, handlers, and trainers of assistance animals for people with disabilities in any housing related transaction.  Many jurisdictions throughout Pennsylvania have also enacted local anti-discrimination ordinances that ensure equal access to housing, regardless of a person’s marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income and other characteristics.

To comply with fair housing laws, landlords and other housing professionals must permit reasonable accommodations and allow reasonable modifications for people with disabilities. In addition, when certain condominiums and apartment buildings are being built, they must meet design and construction accessibility requirements under the Fair Housing Act.


PO BOX 558, Fort Washington, PA 19034
866-540-FAIR | 267-419-8918

Artwork by Bernard J. Kleina