The Fair Housing Act, also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, ensures that individuals and families are able to seek and secure the housing of their choice without regard to, for example, their race, where they came from, or if they have a disability. Specifically, the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against someone in the sale or rental of housing because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status (e.g., children or marital status), national origin, or handicap/disability.
In addition to the federal Fair Housing Act, Massachusetts has enacted additional protections against housing discrimination. The Massachusetts Antidiscrimination Law, M.G.L. c. 151B, prohibits discrimination in advertising, public housing, and actions taken by realtors, landlords, mortgage lenders and brokers.
M.G.L. c. 111, s. 199A prohibits landlords from discriminating against families with children under the age of six because a unit does or may contain lead paint. Landlords have an obligation to abate lead hazards if a child under the age of six lives in a unit and landlords may not reject a family to avoid their obligations under the lead paint laws.