Fair Housing Laws

​Federal Fair Housing Act

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, is called the Fair Housing Act. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency that administers and enforces the Act.  The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability and familial status (having children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18).

The Act deals with the sale, rental or financing of housing, as well as any advertisements or statements with respect to housing. Federal law covers residential property and vacant land intended for residential use. The law generally excludes the following types of property:

  • Owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units
  • Single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker
  • Housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act - Housing Practices

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act was passed in 1957 and has since been amended and updated.  In addition to the protected classes covered by the federal Fair Housing Act,  Colorado law also protects ancestry, marital status, creed, and sexual orientation (including transgender status).  Colorado law covers the same types of housing as the federal law, but also exempts the following properties:

  • Certain housing operated for seniors 55 and older, or 62 years and older, with specific other requirements to be qualified for this exemption
  • For familial status only:
    • Rentals in buildings having up to four units when the owner lives in one of the units
    • Single-family housing if 1) the owner does not own more than three such single-family homes; 2) the homes are sold or rented without the use of any rental or real estate agent; and 3) there is no discriminatory advertising

Prohibited Practices - State and Federal Law

Sale and Rental of Housing

It is illegal to take any of the following actions based on a person's status in a protected class:

  • Refusing to rent or sell housing
  • Refusing to negotiate for housing
  • Making housing unavailable by some other means or policy 
  • Providing or imposing different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Providing different housing services or facilities
  • Stating that housing is not available for inspection, sale or rental when it is available
  • Persuading owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) by implying that people of another protected class are moving into the neighborhood
  • Denying anyone access to or membership in a facility or service related to the sale or rental of housing
  • Retaliation, threatening, coercing, intimidating or interfering with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertising or making any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, disability, ancestry, marital status or creed. This also applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Federal Fair Housing Act (see Housing Covered by the Act).

Mortgage Lending

Mortgage lenders are prohibited from taking any of the following actions based on someone's status as member in a protected class:

  • Refusing to make a mortgage loan
  • Refusing to provide information regarding loans
  • Imposing different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points or fees
  • Discriminating in appraising property
  • Refusing to purchase a loan
  • Setting different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan

Additional Disability Protections

The federal and state fair housing laws define an individual with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of that person's major life activities, has a record of such a disability, or is regarded as having such a disability.  Both federal and Colorado law have three additional definitions of housing discrimination which apply only to people with disabilities:

  • Refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services when the accommodation is necessary to allow the person the opportunity for full use and enjoyment of the premises; or 
  • Refusing to allow a person with a disability to make any reasonable modifications in the housing at the person's own expense, if the modification is necessary for their full enjoyment of the premises **
  • Designing or constructing new multi-family dwellings for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 which do not have the specific handicap features prescribed in the statutes.  See link to the right for more detail.

Accommodation must be made and modifications should be allowed unless it is an undue financial and administrative burden or it changes the fundamental nature of the program.

**Under the Federal and Colorado Fair Housing Acts, the resident needing the modification must pay for it, but recipients of federal funds are subject to the 1973 Rehabilitation Act which may make some modifications the responsibility of the owner.