The Official Website of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)


Discrimination in Housing Quick Reference Guide

A Quick Reference to the Mass. General Laws, Chapter 151B, Section 4 Paragraphs 3b, 3c, 4, 4a, 5, 6, 7, 7a, 7b, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 18


The classes that are protected under:

State and Federal law
State only

Religious Creed...3b-3c-6-7-7b-8-13
National Origin.... 3b-3c-6-7-7b-8-13
Children................. 3b-3c-7b-11-13
Disability.......... 3b-3c-6-7-7a-7b-13

Ancestry.................. 3b-3c-6-7-7b-8
Marital Status.................... 6-7-7b-8
Public Assistance Recipiency..7b-10
Veteran/Armed Forces Member.. 6-7
Sexual Orientation......3b-3c-6-7-7b-8
Age (excluding minors).3b-3c-6-7-8-13
Gender Identity..............................6


Paragraphs 3b and 3c are primarily targeted to the actions of Real Estate Persons, Brokers, Salespersons and Agents and these persons cannot discriminate when performing a transaction that involves residential real estate. Also, persons who seek membership in organizations or services relating to the business of selling real estate and person whose business includes granting morgtage loans cannot be discriminated against.

Paragraph 4 prohibits retaliation against a person because that person has filed a complaint or has spoken out against discriminatory practices.

Paragraph 4a states that any person exercising a right under Chapter 151B can file a complaint against any person who coerces, intimidates, threatens or interferes with them. Also, if a third person is helping another person exercise their 151B rights, then neither can that third person be coerced, intimidated, threatened or interfered with.

Paragraph 5 states that it is illegal for any person to aid or abet in doing any acts that are forbidden under 151B.

Paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 prohibit the owner, lessee, sub lessee, licensed real estate broker, assignee, managing agent, other person with tight of ownership or possession, any agent or employee of the aforementioned persons or any organization of unit owners in a condo or housing cooperative from:

Refusing to rent, lease or sell housing

Making any inquiry or record of the person seeking to rent, lease or buy housing,pertain to that person being a member of any of the above protected classes (excluding public assistance recipiency or children).

The final portion of this paragraph describes what is required to make new, multifamily construction (3 or more units) accessible to persons with physical disabilities.

Paragraph 7a pertains to persons with disabilities. It describes what &e reasonable modifications and reasonable accommodations and defines the discriminationinvolved when an owner refuses to make these changes.

Paragraph 7b prohibits discriminatory advertising in the sale or rental of housing.

Paragraph 10 prohibits discrimination in credit, services or rentingaccommodations solely because of public assistance or rent subsidy recipiency.

Paragraph 11 prohibits the refusal to rent, lease, or sell, or otherwise deny housing because a child or children will occupy the premises.

Paragraph 13 prohibits any person from inducing or preventing the sale or rental of housing by:

making representations regarding the entity of or consequences of having members of protected classes in the neighborhood; or

falsely representing or not showing all available housing within a requested price range, regardlessof its location.

Paragraph 18 prohibits sexual harassment of potential or actual tenants or purchasers of property.


Paragraph 6 covers all publicly assisted or multiple dwelling (3 or more units) housing. Paragraph 7 covers all other types of housing,i.e., one and two family units and undeveloped land on which housing will be built. Paragraph 8 covers commercial space.

Source: MCAD Educational Services, January 1992