Which owners are exempt from the Fair Housing Act?

fair housingThe Federal Fair Housing Act has exemptions, meaning there are some owners of housing who are not covered by the Act’s requirements.  If you are exempt, this would mean that you are not required to follow the reasonable accommodation requirements. As an example, if you are exempt, you do not have to permit assistance animals to live in your property.  Unless your situation is clearly described below, please be careful and consult an attorney to make sure you are exempt before you ignore the Fair Housing Act’s requirements.  The common exceptions are explained below:

  • An owner of a single-family home that is rented without the use of a real estate agent or a management company are exempt from the federal Fair Housing Act as long as the private landlord/owner doesn’t own more than three homes at the time. This includes the home the owner lives in plus any additional homes. A duplex count as two homes, a triplex count as three, etc.
  • An owner of apartments of four units or less are also exempt if the owner lives in one of the units. However, even if this multifamily exemption applies to you, your rental advertising must still comply with the advertising requirements of the Fair Housing Act.
  • The owner of a home in which a single room or section of the home is rented, if the home owner does not own more than three homes.
  • Housing communities that qualify as “Housing for Older Persons” are exempt only from the familial status requirements of the Federal and State Fair Housing Acts.
  • State laws can have different exemptions, and sometimes a state’s exemptions may not coincide with the Federal Fair Housing Act’s exemptions. An example is California.  In those states, even if you are exempt under the Federal Fair Housing Act, your housing may nonetheless be covered under the State Fair Housing Act, which may mean you could be in violation of the state law.
  • Individuals and companies that provide residential property management are never exempt because these individuals and companies are viewed as “being in the business of housing.” This would include a condo owner’s association, which entity will never be exempt from the requirements of the Federal Fair Housing Act.