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Fair Housing

As champions of Fair Housing laws, NAR fights discrimination and promotes equality through an award-winning program called "At Home with Diversity." Since 1998, more than 20,000 REALTORS® and association executives have completed the program with aims to train real estate professionals to work effectively with diversity in today’s market.

How to Recognize Housing Discrimination?

Don’t be fooled by a smile and a handshake. Learn to recognize the signs of discrimination in rentals, sales, leases, mortgage lending, property appraisals, homeowner insurance, and real estate services.

The message may be a subtle as:

  • "We don’t have any service available for people in wheelchairs."
  • "Your children won’t have anyone to play with here."
  • "I would love to have you as a tenant but you have a Seeing Eye dog and we have a strict ‘No Pets Policy’."
  • "There isn’t anyone else here who speaks Spanish so you might feel uncomfortable living here."
  • "We don’t make loans in the area where the house you are buying is located."

And involves Homes, Apartments, Condominiums, Housing Cooperatives and Mobile Homes and all terms and conditions relating to the enjoyment of housing.


It shall be unlawful to make, print, or publish or cause to be made any notice, statement or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, (exclusion) or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap/disability, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination.

Advertising agencies, newspapers, sales firms, realtors® and management companies, as well as their clients, are subject to the provisions of the Fair Housing Laws.

The law applies to:

  • Classified Ads
  • Display Ads
  • Inserts
  • Or any other type of real estate or rental advertising
  • And the selective placing of advertisements

It applies to any type of advertising or written material:

  • Brochures
  • Direct Mailing
  • Radio or television ads
  • MLS listings
  • Posters
  • Billboards
  • Application forms
  • Or other documents, signs or videos

This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to singe-family homes and owner occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Ace.

Human models in photographs, drawings or other graphics may not be used to indicate exclusiveness because of national origin, race, color, religion, sex, disability or familial status.

  • Models should be clearly definable as reasonably representing majority and minority groups in the metropolitan area
  • Both sexes and when appropriate, families with children
  • Models, if used, should portray persons in an equal social setting and indicate to the general public that the housing is open to all

Real estate advertisements should not have words that state or imply a preference or limitation


  • Advertisers and publishers should avoid offensive and marginal expressions
  • Some words or phases are clearly red flags and may imply a preference or limitation for or against one of the protected classes

See the complete Word and Phrase Usage List from the National Association of REALTORS®

Read more about a REALTOR®'s duty to the Public in the NAR Code of Ethics Article 10.

If the housing is an apartment or house with a shared common living area, or is a dormitory in an educational institution, a preference for sex may be advertised. However, if there is no common living space (i.e. a mother-in-law apt. or basement apt.), no preference can be advertised. NO OTHER PREFERENCE IS ACCEPTABLE IN ROOMMATE ADVERTISING (i.e. "Christian female to share apartment" is prohibited).

Housing for older persons meeting federal regulation may advertise a preference for age. Phrases such as "55+ Community", "Senior Complex" and "Housing for Older Persons" may be used. NO OTHER PREFERENCE IS ALLOWED IN HOUSING FOR OLDER PERSONS ADVERTISING.

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