The federal, state and local Fair Housing laws prohibit discrimination in housing based on:
- Race or color
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Military veteran status
- Marital status
Dos and Don'ts
- Treat each applicant equally.
- Be consistent in the information you request and the applicant approval process.
- Document contacts with applicants and tenants in writing.
- Keep a written copy of your policies and procedures on applications and occupancy.
- Educate and train employees about Fair Housing Laws and practices.
- Make, print or publish any statement in connection with the rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference, limitation or discrimination based on a protected class. This prohibition applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from laws prohibiting housing discrimination.
- Refuse to consider the income of multiple applicants applying to live together in one housing unit.
- Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right.
- Ask illegal questions about an applicant’s marital status, religious practices, or sexual orientation.
- Steer applicants away from their desired property to other landlords or neighborhoods.
- Ask applicants about birth control or family practices.
If only based on the renter's membership in a Federal, State, or local protected class, a rental property owner or manager is not allowed to:
- Refuse to rent a home or apartment.
- Refuse to negotiate for a home or apartment.
- Make unavailable or deny a home or apartment.
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for rent of a dwelling.
- Provide different housing services and facilities.
- Falsely deny that a home or apartment is available for rent.
- Represent that housing used by a protected class member may result in lowering of property values, change in the ethnic makeup of neighborhood, or decline in the quality of schools.
- Deny anyone access to, or membership in, a facility or service related to the rental of housing, or discriminate against any person.
Exemptions to Fair Housing Law
- Owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units.
- Single-family housing sold without use of a broker.
- Housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.
- Some senior housing facilities and communities are exempt from liability based on familial status.
- Gender preference may be acceptable if there is a shared kitchen or bath.
Additional Protection Details
In general, familial status protections cover households in which one or more children under 18 years old live with:
- A parent
- A person who has legal custody (guardianship)
- The designee of a parent or legal custodian
- A pregnant woman
- Any person in the process of securing legal custody of a child under 18 years of age
If a tenant, or member of their household:
- Has a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- Has a record of such disability
- Is regarded as having such a disability
If the protection applies, a landlord may not:
- Refuse to let the tenant make reasonable modifications to the dwelling or common use areas, at the tenant’s expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing
Baltimore County prohibits discrimination of military veterans. A veteran is a person who is:
- A former member of the United States armed forces who was discharged from active duty under circumstances other than dishonorable
- A member of the Maryland National Guard
- A member of a reserve component of the United States armed forces