Housing Rights


Housing discrimination is not only illegal, it contradicts in every way the principles of freedom and opportunity we treasure as Americans. 

The department of Housing and Urban Development enforces the Fair Housing Act and other federal laws that prohibit discrimination and the intimidation of people in nearly all housing transactions. Equal access to housing and homeownership opportunities is the cornerstone of this nation’s federal housing policy. Landlords who discriminate are violating federal law, and HUD will vigorously pursue them.

Q: What does HUD stand for?

A: HUD stands for US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is within HUD and ensures the Fair Housing Act is faithfully executed.

Q: What is the Fair Housing Act?

A: Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability)

 Q: What housing is covered?

A: The Fair Housing Act covers most housing.


  • owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units,
  • single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker,
  • housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members

Q: What is prohibited?

A: In the Sale and Rental of Housing and in Mortgage Lending: No one may take any discriminatory actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability). 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. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Q: What about senior housing?

A: Please reference the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA) for an explanation of how the Fair Housing Act pertains to senior housing.


For more information, please visit the HUD Rhode Island Portal at: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/rhode_island/offices

If you think your rights have been violated, you may contact the Boston Regional Office of FHEO at (617) 994-8300.


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