FAIR HOUSING ACT: If I discriminate, what is worst that can happen? Get sued? Get fined? What penalties?

We are considering renting a room in our home. We have two young daughters. We don't want to rent to men.

I hear it's illegal to state a preference in our housing ad on Craigslist or elsewhere.

What are the penalties? Can you get thrown in jail? ;)

Have there been any real cases brought against home owners for not wanting to rent to certain people? (I can imagine cases against companies.) Does someone have to get "ticked off" enough to complain to the federal government? With our country falling apart are the "feds" really going to allocate resources to punish me because I won't rent to a man to protect our daughters???

Ideally we'd like a non-smoking female college student but don't know how to word the ad to not get in trouble!

2 Answers

  • Lynn
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    You are basically looking for a roommate, so the FHA doesn't apply as to gender only. (You still can't discriminate on the basis of race, nationality, religion, etc.) But you are allowed to limit your ad to women only. There is info on Craig's List about this (see the link below).

    Smoking isn't a protected category under fair housing laws, so you can limit your ad to a non-smoker. You can also request that they're quiet, don't keep late hours, etc.

  • Flower
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    The housing discrimination law applies to apartments not to rooms in your home. You can discriminate when you rent a room in your own house. I think I would pay a fee to a roommate agency to get the right person rather than advertise on Craigslist which might attract the wrong type of person to live in your home with your children. You have to be careful on a public bulletin board like Craigslist.

    You have a right to advertise non-smoking even in an apartment. You should contact the local college and ask them to post it on their board for housing instead of Craigslist.

    Exemption to the fair housing law: The rental of a room or rooms in a private house where the owner (or a member of the owner's family) lives in the house

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