Protected Classes In Housing

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Discrimination has no place in any industry. Being honest and dealing fairly with the public leaves no room for discrimination, even if your actions are well-intentioned.

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when buying or renting a home, applying for a mortgage, or engaging in other housing-related activities. 

Who Is Protected?

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status
  • Disability*

*FYI – Hoarding is recognized as a disability (the medical terms are syllogomania and disposophobia) when an individual collects items of little or not value and experiences severe anxiety or distress to discard anything.

What Types of Housing Are Covered?

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In very limited circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied properties four units or less, single-family homes sold or rented directly by the owner without the use of a real estate agent, and housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

For more information and examples of housing discrimination. See Fair Housing and Related Laws.

Maryland Protected Classes

The state of Maryland recognizes 10 protected classes. Per §20-702 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the state aims to “provide for fair housing throughout the state, to all its citizens, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”

The state of Maryland recognizes more protected classes than the federal Fair Housing Act, which only recognizes seven, including race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability.

Note: The Anne Arundel County Council passed Bill 55-19, which added seven protected classes in Anne Arundel County that are in addition to the federal and state protected classes. These additional classes are:

  1. Age
  2. Ancestry
  3. Citizenship
  4. Gender expression
  5. Creed
  6. Occupation
  7. Source of income
COMAR 09.11.02.01(E):
E. The licensee, acting as agent, may not discriminate in the sale, rental, leasing, trading, or transferring of property to any person or group of persons in violation of State Government Article, §20-402, Annotated Code of Maryland.

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