Fair housing laws protect everyone's right to choose housing free from unlawful discrimination. Federal, state and local fair housing laws protect people from discrimination in housing transactions such as rentals, sales, lending, and insurance.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866, enacted April 9, 1866, gives all citizens the same right as a white citizen to make and enforce contracts, sue and be sued, give evidence in court, and inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property.
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, enacted April 11, 1968, is commonly known as the "Fair Housing Act" and was meant as a follow‑up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibited discrimination in housing, there were no federal enforcement provisions. The 1968 act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, religion, and national origin. This landmark piece of legislation provides for equal housing opportunities and makes it a federal crime to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin." The Act was signed into law during the King assassination riots by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had previously signed Voting Rights Act into law.
The Fair Housing Act was amended to include sex as a protected basis.
The Act was amended again in 1988 to add protections for families with children and people with disabilities. The amendments also gave power to the Secretary of HUD to enforce federal fair housing laws.
This Michigan state law virtually mirrors the protection of the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1988, with the major addition of providing protection not only against discrimination in "housing" but in all real estate related transactions (including commercial real estate transactions). In addition to the seven federally protected statuses, the Acts prohibit discrimination based on age and marital status in housing.
VAWA is a U.S. Federal law providing programs and services including, protection for victims who are evicted from their homes because of events related to domestic violence or stalking.
Local ordinances may offer additional protection. The violation of such ordinances usually results in a fine from the local enforcing government. Common protected classes include sexual orientation and gender identity. Contact the Fair Housing Center to find out what protection is offered in your town.