Earlier this week I got a question concerning how fair housing and advertising work together.  Our Fair Housing Act (FHA) provides protection against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and handicap.  Specifically, section 804 of the FHA prohibits "… mak[ing], print[ing], publish[ing], or caus[ing] to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or any intention to make any such preference limitation or discrimination." 

As such, the general rule is that all advertising of residential real estate for sale, rent, or financing should contain an equal housing opportunity logo, statement, or slogan as a means of educating anyone looking for a home that the property is available to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

Advertising includes flyers, brochures, billboards, mailings, radio, television ads, newspapers and magazine ads, signs, business cards, as well as statements (i.e. word of mouth).

Certain types of phrases should absolutely be avoided as they could be read to indicate a preference (or exclusion) of one of the protected classes.  For example, potentially offending phrases should not be used such as

"Restricted, NChildren, Singles Preferred, Catholic Church Nearby, Perfect For the Physically Fit, Hispanic Area, Prefer Bright and/or Healthy Person."

On the other hand, phrases that can be used in advertising include:

"Nice Residential Area, Parks Nearby, Gated Community, Nearby to Shopping, Close to Colleges."

Don’t think fair housing testers are reviewing your ads?  Think again.  Particularly when management runs housing advertisements online — it is easy to view and test if your ad potentially excludes one of the FHA protected classes.  If you need the equal housing opportunity logo or statement or if you have a question about your ad, you might want to seek out a lawyer like me.

Just A Thought.