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Information about the Fair Housing Act

Listings on WhatsTheRent.com are posted by the user, and so it is the user's responsibility to ensure that their listings are in compliance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This page contains some information and links to help users create a listing that does not violate the FHA.

For Owners

When posting an ad, you must follow the rules outline in the Fair Housing Act: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/housing/title8.htm

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to state a preference in any ad for the sale or renting of a dwelling based on any of the federal categories listed below:
  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex - See exception below
  • Familial Status - Defined as the presence of children under the age of 18, and also includes pregnant women.
  • Handicap - Defined as a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of a person's major life activities.
This means you can not state anything in your ad that may be perceived as a discriminatory preference in regards to the categories above, nor can you state anything that may be perceived as discouraging a potential renter based on the categories. For example, you can not say "Christians only," "no children," or "English only."

There is one exception to the sex category, and it only applies if the housing is to be shared. If the tenants will be sharing a bathroom, kitchen, or other common area, you may state a preference based on sex only. For example, if you own a home which you live in, and you are renting out one of your bedrooms, you may state "females only" in your ad.

In addition to the federal restrictions, each state may have their own additional categories. They may include, but are not limited to:
  • Marital status
  • Parenthood
  • Ancestry
  • Source of Income
  • Age
  • Personal Appearance
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Political Affiliation
  • Place of Business
  • Military Status
Check with your state's fair housing laws to see what, if any, restrictions apply beyond the federal requirements.

The best way to ensure that your listing complies with the FHA is to keep the topic of your ad solely on the property itself, and do not talk about what you are looking for in a roommate or tenant. Simply describe the property and the amenities it has.

For Renters

WhatsTheRent.com does not require or ask the owners to state any information which may be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. We do not, however, monitor the information the owners put in the "details" section of their listings, and the owner is responsible for ensuring that what they write in that section does not violate the FHA. We encourage our users to "self police" the site to keep WhatsTheRent.com an equal and fair website for everybody looking to fulfill their housing needs.

If you see an ad that you think violates the Fair Housing Act, you can press "contact" and let the owner know that they may want to check the details section of their listing. You may also report the ad to us by pressing the "report this listing" link which can be found in the details section of the listing.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you may file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by visiting: http://www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm

The information provided above is for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about the FHA or any other legal issue, you should contact an attorney

External Links

For more information, visit the following resources:
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