What is the Fair Housing Act?

The federal and state governments both have legislation to protect people from discrimination in housing. The Fair Housing Act is a federal law enforced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. The State Fair Housing Act is a state law enforced by the NC Human Relations Commission which protects people from discrimination in housing and applies to sale, rental and financing of residential housing; including apartments, houses, mobile homes and vacant lots to be used for housing.
What kind of housing discrimination is prohibited?
The Fair Housing Act and State Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Gender Identity
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Familial Status
  • Disability

What actions are prohibited?

Actions taken to limit, complicate, or refuse housing based on the characteristics above is prohibited. Discrimination could appear in many ways. Examples of prohibited actions include:

  • Refusal to rent or sell housing
  • Refusal to negotiate housing
  • Setting different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Providing a person different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely denying housing available for inspection, sale, or rent
  • Advertising housing that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination
  • Refusing to provide information regarding loans

A full review of forbidden actions is available at HUD’s website.

Who is subject to the law?

Anyone who has control over residential property and real estate financing must obey fair housing law. This includes rental managers, property owners, real estate agents, landlords, banks, developers, builders, and individual homeowners who are selling or renting their property.

How do I file a fair housing complaint?

Complaints are to be made within one year of the alleged unlawful discriminatory housing practice.

To file a complaint related to the State Fair Housing Act you may submit an Online Complaint Form or reach out to the North Carolina Human Relations Commission at (984) 236-1919 or by email at

To file a complaint related to the US HUD Fair Housing Act you may submit an Online Complaint Form or reach out to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development: The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at its National Discrimination Hotline at (800) 669-9777 or (800) 877-8339.

What are other resources regarding fair housing?

Other fair housing resources include the Fair Housing Center A Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina (email:; phone: (855) 191-3247) and Pisgah Legal Services (phone: (800) 489-6144 or (828) 253-0406).

Produced by the Buncombe County Community Development Division available at (828) 250-4834 or via email at