An important part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Act was set worth to protect any person intending to buy or rent a home, apartment or other living space from discrimination on the part of the person selling or renting said space. This means that when a landlord or property seller is conducting a tenant screening, it is not legal for that person to discriminate against the potential tenant or buyer on the basis of their race, the color of their skin, the religion they practice, the country from which they originate, their age, handicaps, disabilities, gender or the status of their family. In the case of family status, this means that a renter or buyer who is a pregnant woman or who has children who have not yet reached age 18 may not be discriminated against. For the purpose of this act and other civil rights acts, these groups are referred to as protected categories.
In practice, the Fair Housing Act means a number of things for someone renting or selling a property. Nowhere in their advertisement or in any statement may they indicate that they have any level of discrimination against any type of protected category in regards to their function as a landlord or seller. They are not legally allowed to lie and say that no rentals are available if they are, in fact, available. Their tenant screening process must not include any discrimination against protected categories, and they may not legally refuse to rent to anyone based on any protected status. In addition, they may not require tenants to pay larger security deposits or face any terms or conditions that are not faced equally by all other renters to whom that individual acts as a landlord. Finally, they may not evict a person or family or terminate their lease due to their inclusion within a protected category.
The Fair Housing Act was created in response to discriminatory housing practices that many people faced in the United States prior to 1968, with individuals largely being discriminated against on the basis of race and religion. Today, the act continues to ensure that people in America have equal civil rights when it comes to buying or renting a living space.