The Fair Housing Act has been on the books for decades, prohibiting all forms of housing discrimination based upon a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and/or disability. The list of so-called “protected classes” in the federal law is relatively short and easy to remember. However, the federal law is not the only housing non-discrimination law impacting manufactured housing communities and retail sales centers.
Shortly after the Fair Housing Act was originally adopted, individual state legislatures around the nation began passing their own version of the act. Often these new state laws added additional protected classes absent from the federal act. For instance, many states treat active service members and veterans as protected classes. Other states have language in their laws indicating a person on public assistance cannot be discriminated against in housing.
One of the latest trends in state legislation is to add “sexual orientation” and/or “gender identity” to the list of protected classes. In 2017, many state legislatures considered bills to add additional protected classes to their state fair housing laws. One of the few to actually pass was in the state of Nevada where “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” to their non-discrimination language.
The bottom line, is that when drafting a non-discrimination policy for a community or business, a landlord must look beyond just the federal law.
State legislatures are not the only governing bodies getting in on the fair housing bandwagon. It is becoming quite common to see city councils and county commissions jumping into the protected class fray. Often referred to as “Human Rights” ordinances, these local laws are often focused on banning discrimination based upon gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
The Human Rights Campaign maintains an on-line list of localities with such ordinances. While informative, the list is incomplete and does not list all cities and counties with local nondiscrimination laws. Check with the local jurisdictions for more information.