Fair Housing Laws & Gender Specific Roommates/Attached Apartments

8 Replies

I see people routinely trying to rent a room in their place or attached apartments to only females. Do you think this violates fair housing discrimination laws? It seems clear to me, but am surprised how common this is.

@Thomas S. Logically that makes sense, but per hud.gov

"The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing.

I guess having a roommate isn't renting "housing?" It sounds like attached apartments or a granny unit would be discrimination though.

It says

"To refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin."

And describes a dwelling as

""Dwelling" means any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families"

So renting a portion of a dwelling based on sex is discrimination.

I am not sure where in the fair housing act the verbiage is, but I believe in it somewhere it states that there is an exception for an owner who is sharing the living space with the tenant. I also believe there is some sort of exclusion for a landlord who lives in the same building if it is 4 units or less, although ym memory is a bit hazy on the last part

Originally posted by @Andrew B. :

I am not sure where in the fair housing act the verbiage is, but I believe in it somewhere it states that there is an exception for an owner who is sharing the living space with the tenant. I also believe there is some sort of exclusion for a landlord who lives in the same building if it is 4 units or less, although ym memory is a bit hazy on the last part

This is exactly my understanding also.  And that goes for all the protected classes, not just gender.

Quite frankly, it makes a lot of sense. Renting a room in your own home to someone is substantially more personal than renting an apartment in a complex or a SFH rental property you own.

It is also one of the few exclusions for being able to refuse to rent to someone with a service or emotional support animal. 

In case people are interested, one California case law situation extended constitutional "right to associate laws" which overrid fair housing law. 

Also people aren't allowed to advertise their preference. Per craigslist:

"This means that in a situation in which a landlord owns less than four rental units, and lives in one of the units, it is legal for the owner to discriminate in the selection process based on the aforementioned categories, but it is illegal for that owner to advertise or otherwise make a statement expressing that discriminatory preference."

Thanks for the input

@Andrew B.

@Jennifer T.

Originally posted by @Alex Tobias :

In case people are interested, one California case law situation extended constitutional "right to associate laws" which overrid fair housing law. 

Also people aren't allowed to advertise their preference. Per craigslist:

"This means that in a situation in which a landlord owns less than four rental units, and lives in one of the units, it is legal for the owner to discriminate in the selection process based on the aforementioned categories, but it is illegal for that owner to advertise or otherwise make a statement expressing that discriminatory preference."

Thanks for the input

@Andrew B.

@Jennifer T.

Interesting!  Thanks for looking that up. 

So it's perfectly okay to discriminate, the discrimination just can't be advertised or told to someone.  I'm not sure if I should roll my eyes or laugh at how ridiculous that is.  I'm actually doing both, lol.  And, sadly, it actually just wastes people's time.  For example, if I were looking for a room to rent, I would prefer an ad said "male only" if that was the person's preference.  That way, I take seconds to scan the ad.  Skip it and move on.  Instead of taking a few minutes or more sending an e-mail or making a phone call/text.  But it is what it is.

@Jennifer T.

Sorry for the late reply. I agree with you. I didn't look into why the judge made their decision, but especially due to the case being seen in California, they were probably trying to satisfy the recent political environment of sensitivity towards discrimination. At least the law ends up supporting the main point of people being able to choose their roommates, and hopefully if someone ever does go to court for advertising their taste, they won't be punished harshly lol. Subjectivity of law morality can be amusing.