The Fair Housing Act, also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, ensures that individuals and families are able to seek and secure the housing of their choice without regard to, for example, their race, where they came from, or if they have a disability. Specifically, the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against someone in the sale or rental of housing because of a person's race, color, religion, sex, familial status (e.g., children or marital status), national origin, or handicap/disability.

In addition to the federal Fair Housing Act, Massachusetts has enacted additional protections against housing discrimination. The Massachusetts Antidiscrimination Law, M.G.L. c. 151B, prohibits discrimination in advertising, public housing, and actions taken by realtors, landlords, mortgage lenders and brokers.

M.G.L. c. 111, s. 199A prohibits landlords from discriminating against families with children under the age of six because a unit does or may contain lead paint. Landlords have an obligation to abate lead hazards if a child under the age of six lives in a unit and landlords may not reject a family to avoid their obligations under the lead paint laws.

Under these state laws, it is illegal to discriminate against someone in the sale or rental of housing because of a person's membership in one of the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religious creed
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Veteran status
  • Age
  • Handicap/disability
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Children
  • Public assistance
  • Children/Lead Paint
  • Public Assistance Recipient (e.g., Section 8 voucher holder or MRVP voucher holder)

Realtor Fair Housing Fact Sheet  pdf format of Realtor Fair Housing Fact Sheet


If You Are a Victim

If you believe you have been a victim of housing discrimination you may contact the Civil Rights Division at (617) 727-2200 or file a civil rights complaint. In addition you may file with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, (617) 994-6000.

For additional information, view the Landlord and Tenant Law pages of this website.

If your complaint is against the management of a federally subsidized housing project or federal housing program, you may file a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at (617) 994-8200.