Fair Housing

Fair housing is the right of all people to be free from discrimination in the rental, sale, or financing of housing. Federal and state law makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of:

  • Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)
  • Handicap
  • National origin
  • Race or color
  • Religion
  • Sex

These are specific Washington State protected classes:

  • Use of a trained guide dog by a blind or deaf person
  • Creed 
  • Marital status

In addition, it is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap

Recognizing Discrimination

  • You are refused the opportunity to rent or buy even though you are qualified.
  • You are singled out and treated differently in the terms and conditions of sale or rental of a dwelling.
  • You are told a dwelling for rent or sale is not available, even though it is.
  • You are directed to homes or rental properties in a particular area for discriminatory reasons.
  • A landlord refuses to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services if necessary for a handicapped person to use the housing.
  • A landlord refuses to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the handicapped person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when your move).
  • A landlord refuses to rent to you because you have 1 or more children under 18 living with you. Housing that is legally limited to older persons may be exempt.

Housing Covered by the Fair Housing Act

The federal Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than 4 units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.