Discriminatory Advertising

Section 3604(c) of the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to make, print or publish, or cause to be made, printed or published, any notice, statement or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling, that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination.

The Fair Housing Act stipulates that it is unlawful to print or publish discriminatory advertisements for the sale or rental of housing units that indicate any preference on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin. This applies not only to newspapers, magazines, radio and television, but also to advertising agencies, sales firms, real estate professionals and management companies. If it is found that a classified advertisement, display advertisement, insert or any other type of real estate advertisement is published with discriminatory language, the person or agency that placed the advertisement is liable, along with the publisher that printed the advertisement.

Generally, a housing advertisement should describe the property itself, and not the potential occupant. For example, an advertisement for a housing unit stating “no children” would be considered discriminatory, as it limits families with children from occupying that unit and therefore violates the familial status provision of the Fair Housing Act. If it is found that an advertisement is indeed discriminatory, both the publisher and the advertiser can be held liable.

If you live in Philadelphia, Southeast Pennsylvania or Lehigh Valley and have questions about advertising and fair housing compliance, contact info@equalhousing.org, 866-540-FAIR or complete an online form.


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