1. Federal Fair Housing - 1968 (Title VIII)

A. Protected Classes
FEDERAL: Sex, race, color, religion, national origin, handicap (mental and physical), familial status

B. Prohibited Practices

  1. Refusal to sell or rent or otherwise deny
  2. Discrimination in terms of sale or rental
  3. Discrimination in advertising
  4. False denial of availability
  5. "Blockbusting"
  6. Different terms for loans - including "redlining"
  7. Varying access to brokers' organizations
  8. "Steering"
  9. "Redlining"
  10. Appraisal report with value impact on any of above
  11. Making notations indicating discriminatory preferences
  12. Coercion, intimidation, interference with any person in excise of rights

C. Property Covered

1. Residential Property (not commercial)

2. Any type of residential property if:

a. Handled by real estate broker (depending on type of property; liability may be only for broker)

b. Discriminatory advertising

c. Any written notice or statement indicating discriminatory preference

3. Single-Family Privately owned with broker

a. Privately owned with discriminatory advertising

b. Privately owned with more than one house sold in 2 years

c. Privately owned with more than three houses owned (dealer)

d. Not privately owned (corporate)

4. Multi-family

a. Any five or more unit building

b. Two to four units, non-owner occupied

c. Two to four units, owner-occupied (Liability for broker only, not owner)

5. Covered multifamily dwellings (for design/construction standards - handicap discrimination)

a. Buildings of four or more units if one or more elevators

b. Ground floor units in other buildings of four or more units

D. Housing Not Covered

1. Sale or rental of single family by private individual with three or less properties

a. Without a broker

b. Without discriminatory advertising

c. With no more than one house sold in two years

2. Rental of owner-occupied two to four family

3. Sale/rental of property owed by religious organization

4. Private club

5. Certain qualified Housing for older persons - exempt from familial status

E. Enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act

1. File complaint with HUD

2. File civil action in US District Court

3. Administrative process (Administrative Law Judge or Civil Action)

4. Remedies: civil penalties, damages (actual and/or punitive), injunctive relief

F. Testors are legal

II. Massachusetts General Laws - Chapter 151B - 804 CMR 02.00

The Massachusetts Fair Housing statute, as contained in M.G.L. c.151B, s.4 prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, children, handicap, and receipt of public assistance or housing subsidy in the selling, renting or leasing of housing accommodations, commercial space, or land intended for use as such.

The Massachusetts poster "The Fair Housing Law" (M.G.L. c. 151B, § 7)

A. Persons Covered by M.G.L. c. 151B

1. Owners of single family dwellings, multiple family swellings, commercial space, or land intended for such use are covered by M.G.L. c 151B, s.4

2. Licensed real estate brokers, managing agents, lessees, sub-lessees, or assignees of such dwellings, commercial space or land are covered by M.G.L. c 151B, s.4

3. Those having right of ownership or possession, or right to rent, lease or sell, or negotiate for the sale or lease of such dwellings, commercial space or land are covered by M.G.L. c 151B, s.4

4. Agents or employees of any person(s) described in 804 CMR 2.01(a), (b) or (c) are covered by M.G.L. c 151B, s.4

5. Any organization of unit owners in a condominium or housing cooperative are covered by M.G.L. c 151B, s.4

6. Those persons who coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with another person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right are covered by M.G.L. c 151B, §. 4

7. Those persons who directly or indirectly prevent or attempt to prevent the construction, purchase, sale or rental of any dwelling or land are covered by M.G.L. c 151B, s.4

8. Those persons who aid or abet in doing any illegal acts specified by 804 CMR 2.00 et seq. are covered by M.G.L. c. 151B, § 4

B. Persons Not Covered by M.G.L. c. 151B

1. Registered Sex Offenders, smokers, students etc.

2. Animals

C. Property Covered by M.G.L. c. 151B

1. Virtually all land and housing accommodations in the Commonwealth are covered by M.G.L. c. 151B, §. 4. These include, but are not limited to: residentially zoned land and house lots; three family homes; apartments and tenement houses; multi-family dwellings and housing developments; publicly assisted housing; and, single and two family residences intended for sale.

2. All commercial space, for sale or for rent, and all land intended to be put to commercial use are covered by M.G.L. c 151B, §. 4

D. Property Not Covered by M.G.L. c151B, § 4 - The leasing of rental units in those two family homes in which the owner occupies one apartment of that home as his residence is not covered by this law unless:

1. The home-seeker or renter is a recipient of public assistance or housing subsidy; or,

2. The leasing or rental process utilized the services of a person or organization whose business includes engaging in residential real estate related transactions; or

3. The availability of such unit is made know by making, printing, publishing, or causing to be made printed or published any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the rental of such a unit that indicates any preference limitation, exclusion or discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, children, marital status, handicap, veteran status, or public assistance or housing subsidy recipiency.

E. Unlawful Housing Practices

1. It is unlawful to refuse rent or lease or otherwise to deny to or withhold from any person such housing, space or land because of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, children, handicap or receipt of public assistance or housing subsidy.

2. It is unlawful to discriminate against any person because of his or her race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, children, handicap or receipt of public assistance or housing subsidy.

3. It is unlawful to cause to be made any written or oral inquiry, or record, concerning the race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, children, handicap or receipt of public assistance or housing subsidy.

4. It is unlawful to advertise for rent or for sale any housing, space, or land (vacant or not), or to post a "For Rent" or "For Sale" sign or notice, or to offer or to accept a listing, which advertisement, sign or listing is intended to discriminate against any person or group of persons because of the race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, children, handicap or receipt of public assistance or housing subsidy.

F. Examples of Unlawful Housing Practices include, but are not limited to the following:

1. To refuses to rent or sell a dwelling, commercial space or land (vacant or not) to a person or group of persons because of their protected status.

2. To charge a person more for the purchase or rental of a dwelling, commercial space or land because of his or her protected status.

3. To advertise a dwelling, commercial space or land in any way so as to convey an attitude of discrimination on the basis of a person's protected status.

4. To falsely deny the availability of a dwelling, commercial space or land because of a person's status.

5. To refuse to permit reasonable modifications to the premises to accommodate a person with a handicap.

6. To pass an ordinance that unlawfully denies a dwelling, commercial space or land to a person or group of persons because of their protected status.

7. To refuse to rent to a family with a child or children because the premises do or may contain lead based paint.

8. To publicly or privately make any offering, whether in writing or verbally, in any way, so as to convey an attitude of discrimination on the basis of a person's protected status.

G. Age discrimination exceptions

1. Minor or person not reaching age of majority

2. Senior housing

H. Housing Discrimination in Credit Services or Ren tal Accommodations

M.G.L. c 151B, s 4, subsection 10 prohibits discrimination in the furnishing of credit services, or in the renting of accommodations against an individual who is a recipient of federal, state, or local assistance.

1. Prohibited Practices

To discriminate in furnishing credit services or rental accommodations; also, to discriminate of such public assistance, rental assistance, or housing subsidy program.

2. Examples of unlawful practices

(For rental subsidy recipients, discrimination may include the following: Refusal to sign program lease, refusal to make modifications in unit to satisfy state sanitary code, requirement for security deposit in excess of program allowance)

I. Housing Discrimination Against Persons with Children

M.G.L. c. 151B, § 4 (11) prohibits discrimination in the leasing or renting of accommodations to any person because the person has a child or children who shall occupy the premises with such person.

1. Definition of Children:

a. For the purposes of 804 CMR 2.02, a child is any individual who has not yet attained the age of 18 years

b. For the purposes of 804 CMR 2.02, discrimination against persons with children shall extend to women who are pregnant

c. For the purposes of 804 CMR 2.02, discrimination against persons with children shall extend to persons who are in the process of securing legal custody of a child or children.



2. Examples of Unlawful practices under 802 CMR 2.02 (3) include, but are not limited to the following:

a. Refusing to rent to families with young children because of lead pain in the unit.

b. Refusing to allow families with young children to live above a certain floor

c. Charging a higher rent or security de posit to families with children

3. Exemptions - None; all property covered

4. Prohibited Practices - Protected class - Children

a. Refusal to rent sell or otherwise deny -includes refusals based on lead paint and other safety concerns

b. Discrimination in terms/conditions

c. Discriminatory advertising

5. Major exemptions (exemptions apply only to property owners, for real estate agents these exemptions do not apply. Also in the area of discriminatory advertising, these exemptions do not apply.)

a. Three family or less with elderly (65 yrs. Or older) or infirm occupant for whom presence of children would be a hardship

b. Owner/occupant temporary lease

c. Lease of owner-occupied two-family

J. Discrimination against handicapped or disabled persons

A physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities of a person. The term major life activities means functions including, but not limited to caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

1. Disabled/Handicapped are interchangeable terms

2. No extra rental or fee for disability accessible housing

3. Refusing to rent to a disabled person

4. Service animals

5. Reasonable modifications

6. Alcoholism, smoking

K. Enforcement Remedies

1. MCAD

2. Civil Action

a. Injunctive relief, damages, affirmative relief, civil penalties, attorneys' fees for prevailing complainants

b. Broker/salesman licensing enforcement

L. MCAD Procedures

1. Complaint/Answer

a. Complaint must be filed within 12 months of the incident

2. Public Information

a. Documents available for inspection by all parties and the public

b. Documents not available to parties and the public

3. Investigation by the Commission

a. Investigatory process

b. Fact-finding conference

c. Discovery or exchange of information

d. Probable Cause/Lack of Probable Cause

e. Conciliation

f. Election of State Court Proceeding

g. Role of the Attorney General

h. Public Hearing

i. Appeal to full Commission

j. Judicial Review

4. Practical Applications and Trends

a. Examples of cases

i. Shapiro v. Cadman Towers, 844 F. Supp. II 6 (E.D.N.Y. 1994)
ii. Devita v. Ferlisi, 15 MPLR 1444 (1993)

b. Handling Problem Situations

i. Broker's liability for actions of salesmen
ii. Agent's liability if working in office, with discriminatory listings
iii. Handling racial violence/intimidation
iv. Responding to information that client may have discriminatory preferences
v. Lead paint law and discriminatory practices against families with children (duty to disclose all available units) G.L. c. III, ss. 189-199B


FAIR HOUSING RESOURCES AND PUBLICATIONS

  • Non Discriminatory - Real Estate Practices: The Responsibilities of Real Estate Brokers and Property Owners Under The Fair Housing Laws.
  • Massachusetts Association of Realtors' - Fair Housing Chart
  • Court decisions: Devita v. Ferlisi and Shapiro v. Cadman Towers
  • Fair Housing Rights of Individuals With Disabilities Physical Access - Chart