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Equal Opportunity in Housing

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits all racial discrimination in the sale or rental of property. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964; the Housing Act, adopted in 1968 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., (amended in 1972 and 1988) declares a national policy of fair housing throughout the United States. The law makes illegal any discrimination in the sale, lease or rental of housing, or making housing otherwise unavailable based on a protected class.


Federal Race
National Origin
Familial Status
Oregon Marital Status
Source of Income (1)
Sexual Orientation
Gender Identity
Multnomah County/
Age (2)
Hillsboro Age (3), Domestic Partnership


(1) Most statutes provide exceptions for recipients of Section 8 federal rent subsidy payments or income derived in an illegal
(2) Generally doesn’t apply with respect to 55+ housing
(3) Generally doesn’t apply with respect to 55+ housing

8 Tips for Fair Housing Compliance

  1. Educate sellers about fair housing laws and explain what they mean in the transaction.
  2. Treat all prospective buyers in substantially the same way. Use the same approach and manner to greet people, show homes, qualify prospects, obtain listings, conduct open houses, present purchase offers, keep records, and follow up with prospects.
  3. Use forms or checklists to standardize the questions you ask and the information you request from prospective buyers.
  4. Market your property to a diverse group of prospective buyers. Avoid using exclusionary words or pictures. Any marketing plan that indicates a preference or limitation or discriminates on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin violates the Fair Housing Act.
  5. Allow prospective buyers to select their own preferred neighborhoods. Never “steer” prospects toward or away from any neighborhood, however subtly. Offer every prospect a variety of housing choices.
  6. Contact local fair housing organizations and REALTOR® associations for information about fair housing compliance and compliance self-testing. Fair housing guidance is posted online at NAR’s Library, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and The National Fair Housing Advocate.
  7. Be vocal and proactive in expressing your own personal commitment to fair housing.
  8. Include a statement in your advertising stating that your company doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, or familial status. A statement isn’t absolute protection against liability for noncompliance, but it can be used as evidence of your company’s commitment to fair housing.

TIP: You can’t control the prejudices of others, but discriminating in any way, even at the request of a client, is illegal. If a client wants you to discriminate, walk away from the transaction.