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National Origin Discrimination

National origin discrimination is different treatment in housing because of a person’s ancestry, ethnicity, birthplace, culture or language, and it is illegal. People cannot be denied housing because they or their family are from another country, because they have a name or accent associated with a national origin group, because they participate in certain customs associated with a national origin group or because they are married to or associate with people of a certain national origin. Potential examples of national origin discrimination include:

  • Offering different rent rates based on ethnicity
  • Selectively screening potential and existing tenants for citizenship and immigration status
  • Refusing to rent to refugees
  • Steering prospective buyers or renters to or away from certain neighborhoods because of their ancestry
  • Failing to provide the same level of service or housing amenities because a tenant was born in another country

Landlords are allowed to request immigration documentation and conduct inquiries to determine whether a potential renter meets the criteria for rental, as long as the same procedure is applied to all potential renters.  To see a list of acceptable identification documents in lieu of a social security card, view our National Origin and Immigration Fact Sheet.  Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with a person’s exercise or enjoyment of rights granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act. This includes threats to report a person to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if they report housing discrimination to HUD.

If you live in Philadelphia, Southeast Pennsylvania or the Lehigh Valley and have questions regarding national origin discrimination in housing, contact info@equalhousing.org, 866-540-FAIR or contact us.

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