Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Building Homes and Strengthening Communities

Fair Housing 101

What Is the Federal Fair Housing Act and Whom Does it Protect?

The Federal Fair Housing Act refers to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (www.justice.gov). This Act, in addition to the Texas Fair Housing Act (www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us), protects your right to rent an apartment, buy a home, obtain a mortgage, or purchase homeowners insurance free from discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status, and
  • Disability

Cities, counties, and other municipalities may have additional housing discrimination laws to protect additional groups. To find out about existing additional protections in your City, County, or municipality, find website listings in the Texas.gov (www.texas.gov) directory or find and contact your local Legal Aid Office using TXLawHelp.org (www.txlawhelp.org).

In addition to the Act, the following legislation and executive orders may apply and provide a basis for federal fair housing enforcement:

For help in identifying what discrimination may look like, please view the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") YouTube Channel (youtube.com) or the National Fair Housing Alliance page (fairhousingresourcecenter.com). If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination, view the How to File a Complaint page. To download more information, including the HUD complaint app and fair housing rights brochures, visit our Toolkits, Sample Forms, and Downloads page.

What Is the Goal of HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule?

HUD, in the Summary of its final 2015 rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, states that “[t]he Fair Housing Act not only prohibits discrimination but, in conjunction with other statutes, directs HUD’s program participants to take significant actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, achieve truly balanced and integrated living patterns, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities.” Read the AFFH Final Rule and view the Assessment of Fair Housing Tool for local jurisdictions (www.huduser.org) or access HUD's Fair Housing Planning Guide (PDF) (hud.gov) to learn more about HUD's goals to eliminate segregation and discriminatory practices in programs administered with its funds.
Learn more about HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule by visiting: https://www.huduser.org/portal/affht_pt.html#final-rule.

Fair Housing in TDHCA Monitored Rental Properties

As an entity that receives HUD funding, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs ("TDHCA") is committed to meeting HUD requirements to expand fair housing choice and opportunities in the State of Texas. See additional guidance on this page for renters, homebuyers, housing professionals, or elected officials and local governments.

The Department of Justice ("DOJ") and HUD are jointly responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act. The Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC") (www.twc.state.tx.us) is the state agency in Texas responsible for enforcing the Texas Fair Housing Act, even in TDHCA monitored rental properties. To learn more about making a complaint, visit the How to File a Complaint page.

Are Any Kinds of Housing Exempt From the Law?

All housing is covered by fair housing laws although there may be differences in how some laws and provisions are applied. Only owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members are exempt under certain circumstances.

While not exempt, some properties follow special guidance under the Housing for Older Persons Amendment ("HOPA") to the Fair Housing Act, which can change the way a property must follow familial status protections under fair housing law. Review the HOPA (PDF) (hud.gov). For additional guidance, please read HUD's HOPA FAQs (PDF) (hud.gov).