Community Guidelines & Standards
Members of the Houfy services (the "Services") acknowledge and agree to comply with our Listing & Marketplace Guidelines when listing a property on Houfy:
These Listing & Marketplace Guidelines are best practices for how property owners and managers who list with Houfy can provide guests with the experience they expect. These guidelines ensure that online booking is simple, secure, and consistent so guests are more likely to return in the future.
Houfy reserves the right to remove any content that violates any of the following:
You cannot cancel a material number of confirmed requests
Canceling a confirmed request can result in lost time and money, and result in an overall disappointing experience for guests.
You must maintain an accurate calendar
Your calendar should be kept accurate at all times. This will save potential guests from spending time submitting booking requests for unavailable dates and will save you time in having to respond about availability.
You cannot use one listing to drive bookings for multiple unlisted properties
General content guidelines: Use the fields in the listing editor for their intended purpose. The following types of information are not permitted in text areas of your listing (unless otherwise indicated by field names):
- Company names
- URLs such as www.rentalcompanyname.com
- Phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Property addresses
- A listing must accurately portray the rental.
- The advertising region selected for a listing must be as exact as possible.
- Listings may not contain information copied from another listing.
These guidelines are intended to provide the best experience possible for you and your guests.
Should any of these be violated, your listing is subject to less visibility to travelers, that include but are not limited to removing or disabling your ability to receive inquiries or removal from search results, or removal from the Houfy altogether.
Last updated September 21, 2020
Thank you for using Houfy. Together we can keep ourservices a safe, trusted and professional place where we can create economic opportunity for everyone.
These Community Standards provide guidance and rules for the use of our services and outline some examples of prohibited conduct in connection with our services. These policies are incorporated by reference into, and governed by the Terms of Service or other similar written agreement between you (Member) and Houfy Inc.
A core value at Houfy is to put our members first. These Community Standards ensure that the conversations taking place each day on our services help our members be more productive and successful and are free of inappropriate and unwanted content or behavior. The Houfy Services are used by people to share information, build their brands, grow their businesses and everything in between. We’re proud of the creative and inspiring ways that people use the Houfy Services. As a Houfy member, you agree not to misuse the Houfy Services or help anyone else do so.
We ask every member on Houfy to act responsibly. If you see something that you believe may violate our policies, please report it to us. This includes whether it appears in profiles, posts, comments, conversations, or anywhere else. These reports, along with our automated defenses, help us identify and prevent abuse and misbehavior. Please use the reporting tools responsibly and only for their intended purposes. To learn more about how to report inappropriate behavior, visit our Houfy Safety Center.
A violation of these policies may result in us taking enforcement actions. Depending on the severity of the violation and a member’s behavior or account history, we may limit the visibility of certain content, remove content from our Services, or even restrict a member’s account in the event of severe or repeated offenses. If you believe action taken on your content or your account was in error, you can submit a request to appeal your case.
1) Integrity & Authenticity
Be trustworthy. Our members must be real people, who provide their real name and accurate information about themselves. We don’t allow fake profiles on our Services and it’s not okay to provide misleading or deceptive information about yourself.
Be professional. We acknowledge the value of discussions around professional activities and ask our members to behave professionally by not being dishonest or inappropriate. When creating content, we ask that you keep it professional, relevant, and on-topic. For more information, see our Publishing Platform Guidelines. Do not share false information or use the services to shock or intimidate others. And it is not okay to share graphic, obscene, or pornographic content on the services.
Be Relevant. Your messages, posts, comments, hashtags, and other content should be on-topic and relevant. Houfy is a professional community for sharing professional content and information, so don’t share content that’s irrelevant or inappropriate.
Be Honest and authentic. Be honest, forthright, and respectful. Only invite people that you know, that are recommended to you by trusted connections, or that you otherwise trust to join your network. Do not share comments, opinions, or other content in a manner that is intended to be misleading or inaccurate or to conceal a conflict of interest or unlawful motive, including to interfere in or improperly influence an election. Do not share content that directly contradicts guidance from leading global health organizations and public health authorities. You may not use the services to share false content or information, including news stories, that presents untrue facts or events as though they are true or likely true. When you share content or endorse someone or something in exchange for personal benefit (including personal or family relationships, monetary payment, free products or services, or other value), you must include a clear and conspicuous notice of the personal benefit you receive.
Impersonation & Misrepresentation. You may not impersonate others or mislead, confuse, or deceive. Pretending to be someone else or representing a business in a way that’s not truthful is not allowed. You’re not allowed to use an image of someone else, or an artificial or synthetic image, as a representation of yourself. You may not post “deep-fake” images or videos of others or otherwise post content that has been manipulated to deceive. You likewise may not associate yourself on Houfy with a business or organization that you are not actually associated with. You may not use or attempt to use another person's Houfy account or create a member profile for anyone other than yourself. When choosing a profile picture, you may not use an image that is not your likeness for your profile. Also, you may not manipulate identifiers in order to disguise the origin of any message or post transmitted through the services. The fact that Houfy, in rare cases, may allow clearly fictional profiles with express prior permission does not waive our right to prohibit your false profile or false association with a business or organization.
- Don’t do anything that's false, fraudulent, inaccurate or deceiving.
- Don’t impersonate another person, company or entity.
- Don’t engage in misleading or unethical marketing or advertising.
- Don't create a false identity or forged email address or header, or phone number, or otherwise attempting to mislead others as to the identity of the sender or the origin of a message or phone call.
Spam and scams. We do not allow un-targeted, irrelevant, obviously unwanted, unauthorized, inappropriately commercial or promotional, or gratuitously repetitive messages or other similar content. Do not use Houfy to sensationalize or capitalize on tragic events for commercial purposes. Do not use our invitation feature to send promotional messages to people you don’t know or to otherwise spam people. Please make the effort to create original, professional, relevant, and interesting content in order to gain popularity, instead of trying ways to artificially increase the number of views, re-shares, likes, or comments.
- Don’t send spam or other unsolicited communications, promotions or advertisements. (We reserve the right to determine what constitutes spam.)
- Do not use the Houfy Services in connection with unsolicited, unwanted, or harassing communications (commercial or otherwise), including, but not limited to, phone calls, SMS or MMS messages, chat, voice mail, video, or faxes.
- Do not engage in any unsolicited advertising, marketing or other activities prohibited by applicable law or regulation covering anti-spam, data protection, or privacy legislation in any applicable jurisdiction, including, but not limited to anti-spam laws and regulations such as the CAN SPAM Act of 2003, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act.
- Don't use the Houfy Services to harvest or otherwise collect information about individuals, including email addresses or phone numbers, without their explicit consent or under false pretenses.
- Don’t send altered, deceptive or false source-identifying information, including without limitation phishing or spoofing.
Be safe. We strive to maintain a civil and friendly community for our members. The services shouldn't be used to harm others or their business prospects or to air personal grievances and disputes. It is not okay to harass, abuse, or send other unwelcome communications to people (e.g., romantic advances, sexually explicit content, junk mail, spam, chain letters, phishing schemes). We do not allow hate speech, hate groups, terrorists, or those who engage in violent crimes on the services.
Bullying and harassment. We don’t allow bullying or harassment that targets individuals or groups to degrade or shame. This includes abusive language, sexual advances and innuendo, revealing others' personal or sensitive information (aka "doxing"), posting content about them without consent, or inciting or engaging others to do any of the same.
3) Objectionable Content
Hate speech. We don’t allow content that denigrates, intimidates, or incites or threatens hatred, violence, or prejudicial action against individuals or groups because of their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or mental, medical, or physical condition. Hate groups are not welcome and not permitted on the services.
We do not allow posts or accounts that glorify, celebrate, downplay, or trivialize violence, suffering, abuse, or deaths of individuals or groups. This includes the use of scientific or pseudoscientific claims to pathologize, dehumanize, or disempower others. We do not allow calls for intolerance, exclusion, or segregation based on protected characteristics, nor do we allow the glorification of groups which do any of the above.
We do not allow hateful text, images, symbols, or other content in your username, profile, or bio.
Harmful content and shocking material. We don’t allow graphic or other content intended to shock or humiliate others. We don’t allow activities that promote, organize, depict, or facilitate criminal activity. We also don’t allow content depicting or promoting instructional weapon making, drug abuse, and threats of theft. Content or activities that promote or encourage suicide or any type of self-injury, including self-mutilation and eating disorders, is also not allowed. If you see signs that someone may be considering self-harm, please report it.
- Don’t do or post anything threatening, harassing, abusive, excessively violent, offensive, sexually explicit or obscene.
- Don’t advocate bigotry or hatred against any person or group based on their race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual preference, age or disability.
- Don't use the Houfy Services to transmit any material or content that is offensive, inappropriate, pornographic, obscene, illegal, or otherwise objectionable to any person or entity.
- Don't use the Houfy Services to transmit any material that is, facilitates, or encourages libelous, defamatory, discriminatory, or otherwise malicious or harmful speech or acts to any person or entity, including but not limited to hate speech, and any other material that Houfy reasonably believes degrades, intimidates, incites violence against, or encourages prejudicial action against anyone based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, geographic location or other protected category.
Adult content. It's not acceptable to post content containing nudity or sexually explicit material or language. (Some adult content may be allowed if the intent is clearly educational, medical, scientific, or artistic, and it’s not gratuitously graphic.) The services are never to be used for sexual exploitation of children. You also may not post content that threatens sexual violence or sexual assault. You may not use the services to send unsolicited sexual advances, engage in or promote non-consensual sexually explicit content (e.g., revenge porn), escort services, prostitution, or human trafficking.
4) Violence & Criminal Behavior
Threats of violence and incitement. We do not allow content or actions that threaten, encourage, or incite violence against anyone, directly or indirectly. This includes statements of an intent to kill or inflict serious physical harm. We don’t allow individuals or groups that engage in or promote violence, property damage, or organized criminal activity. You may not use our services to express support for such individuals or groups or to post content or otherwise use the services to incite or glorify violence.
Terrorism. We don’t allow any terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups on our Services. And we don’t allow any individuals who affiliate with such organizations or groups to promote their activities. Content that depicts terrorist activity, that is intended to recruit for terrorist organizations, or threatens, promotes, or supports terrorism in any manner is not tolerated on the services.
5) Respecting Intellectual Property and Following the Law.
- Don’t do anything that otherwise violates the law, including without limitation all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content.
Copyright and trademark. We respect the intellectual property rights of others and don’t allow copyright infringement. You may not violate the intellectual property rights of others, including copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, or other proprietary rights. For example, don’t copy or distribute (except through the available sharing functionality) the posts or other content of others without their permission, which they may give by posting under a Creative Commons license. Visit the Houfy Copyright Policy to learn more about how to report copyright infringement. For more information on trademark rules, see our Trademark Policy.
- Don't use Houfy Services to transmit any material that infringes anyone's copyright, trademark or other intellectual property rights.
Respect others' rights and follow the law. Before sharing or using someone else's copyrighted works, trademarks, private information, or trade secrets, make sure you have the legal right to do so. The services should not be used for illegal activities, promoting illegal products, or violating the rights of others. Don't use the services to commit fraud or to try to trick others. Also, don't use the services to intentionally distribute viruses, worms, or other software that can destroy or interrupt others' data or computer devices.
Privacy and publicity. You must respect others' privacy on the services. You may not solicit email addresses or other personal information from Houfy members you don't know without authorization; use, disclose or distribute on Houfy any data obtained in violation of any of our policies or agreements; disclose information that you don’t have the right to disclose (such as personal or confidential information of others, including your employer); or post or distribute content depicting children without the necessary consent from such child's legal guardian or parent. Don’t use others' names, likenesses, or photos to suggest an endorsement of a product, service, or investment without their prior consent.
- Don’t violate anyone’s privacy or publicity rights.
Compliance with law. Your use of the services must comply with all applicable laws including, without limitation, privacy laws, intellectual property laws, anti-spam laws, export control laws, tax laws, and regulatory requirements. You may not use the services to create or operate a pyramid scheme, engage in fraud, or to sell or promote illegal products, including drugs.
- Don’t use the Houfy Services in violation of any US export controls, regulations or sanctions.
6) Respecting Houfy's rights.
Respect Houfy's rights. Don't violate the rights of Houfy. For more information about what this means, see our User Agreement . It’s not okay to suggest that you’re affiliated with or endorsed by Houfy when you’re not. Don’t violate our intellectual property rights, scrape the services, or interfere with or disrupt the services.
- Don’t probe, scan or test the vulnerability of any system or network.
- Don’t breach or otherwise bypass any security or authentication measures.
- Don’t access, tamper with or use nonpublic areas or parts of the Houfy Services, or shared areas of the Houfy Services you haven't been invited to.
- Don’t interfere with or disrupt any member, host or network (whether it’s Houfy’s or someone else’s), for example by distributing malware or overloading, flooding or mail-bombing any part of the Houfy Services.
- Don’t take apart, decompile or reverse engineer any part of the Houfy Services in an effort to access things such as source code or algorithms.
- Don’t access, search or create accounts for the Houfy Services by any means other than our publicly supported interfaces (for example, scraping, spidering or crawling).
- Don’t take any action that imposes an unreasonable load on our infrastructure or our third party providers. (We reserve the right to determine what’s reasonable.)
- Don’t provide your password to any other person, use any other person’s username and password, or otherwise manage the Houfy Services through shared credentials.
Unauthorized access and use. You may access the services only in the manner that we expressly authorize, for the tasks that the services are intended for. You may not access the services except through the interfaces intentionally provided by Houfy, such as its mobile applications and Houfy.com.
Interference with the Services. You may not interfere with the functionality of, or our rights in, the services. You may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary rights notices contained in or on the services.
Respect our rules. You must follow the spirit and letter of our rules, agreements, and policies. You may not violate any additional terms concerning the specific services that are provided when you sign up for or start using such services.
- Don’t use unauthorized credit cards, debit cards or other unauthorized payment devices on the Houfy Services.
- Don’t promote or advertise products or services other than your own without appropriate authorization.
- Don’t sell the Houfy Services unless specifically authorized to do so, or publish or use the Houfy Services on any network or system other than those provided by Houfy unless previously authorized by Houfy.
If we conclude that you’re violating any of these policies, or engaging in any other behavior we deem abusive or inappropriate, we may take action against your Account. We try to ensure fair outcomes, but in all cases we reserve the right to remove any content or suspend your Account, without any refund of any amounts paid for the Houfy Services, without notice, at any time and for any reason. We reserve the right to enforce, or not enforce, these Community Standards at our sole discretion.
You can report violations of these guidelines to us directly by emailing
We may modify these Community Standards from time to time, and will post the most current version on our site. If a modification meaningfully reduces your rights, we'll notify you in accordance with the procedures set forth in our Terms of Service.
If you have any comments or questions feel free to contact us.
Houfy Profile Photo Guidelines
We provide you with the opportunity to add a photograph to your profile to help others recognize you. Your photo can be removed by Houfy if your profile image doesn't include your likeness or a headshot photo. Some examples of photos that shouldn't be used are:
- Company Logos
- Words or phrases
All photos must comply with our Terms of Service. If we remove your photo, you can upload a different photo of yourself to remedy this situation. You can also:
- See or edit your current photo
- See step-by-step instructions for adding your profile photo
- Learn how to add or change a background photo
- Learn more if you're having trouble uploading your photo
- Report an inappropriate photo
Last updated: September 19, 2020
Houfy recommends at least 1024x683 in size and 96 dpi for resolution for your Houfy listing.
If you scale an image up in size, the resolution goes down = more pixelation.
Photos should be relevant to the listing represented. Specifically, they should be of a respectable quality. Photos that are overly blurry, noisy, rotated, or too dark may be removed. Horizontal photos (landscape style) display the best and are recommended. Vertical photos (portrait style) are accepted but not recommended, as these dimensions do not take full advantage of the space provided.
Photos should not be copyrighted, unless uploaded with permission of the copyright owner. You can review our copyright and trademark policy here.
Photos that violate our policies & guidelines might contain:
- Illegal & inappropriate content
- Violations of copyright
- Trademark infringement
- Incitement of violence
- Promotions of hate
- Invasion of privacy
Houfy has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy, privacy policies, or practices of or opinions expressed in any Third Party Websites. In addition, Houfy will not and cannot monitor, verify, censor or edit the content of any Third Party Website.
By using the Services, you expressly relieve and hold harmless Houfy from any and all liability arising from your use of any Third Party Website. Houfy reserves the right to remove links that violate its listing guidelines and suspends members who upload such links.
The hyperlinks to Third Party Websites are intended for verification and reference purposes only.
Do you have a homepage, link with a floor plan, or is your property listed on another site?
Houfy objective is to be as clear as possible, we recommend our members to add as many direct links, with similar/the same information.
The following content is not permitted:
- Sites that are under construction
- Inappropriate content considered to be not family friendly
- Dysfunctional videos or videos with embedding disabled
Last updated: January 22, 2019
Houfy Publishing Platform Guidelines
Houfy's Publishing Platform is an ideal place to develop and strengthen your property's information by sharing your knowledge and expertise near your place. It will be tied to your profile and if you wish to your listing. Here are some guidelines to consider as you use the publishing platform:
- Content published on Houfy's publishing platform remains your work. You own the rights to any original articles you publish.
- You can request the deletion of your content from our platform at any time.
- Houfy can distribute your content, annotate your content (e.g., to highlight that your views may not be the views of Houfy), and sell advertising on pages where your content appears.
- Expect that your articles will be publicly available and can be shared.
- Postings for Listings don't belong on our publishing platform. Learn more about posting a listing on Houfy and the Premium Listings account.
- Advertisements and promotions for specials, products, or services aren't appropriate content for article publishing. Advertisements can be purchased using Houfy Marketing Solutions.
- Remember to be professional and don't post anything misleading, fraudulent, obscene, threatening, hateful, defamatory, discriminatory, or illegal.
- You're responsible for the content of your articles, including any harm caused by you to others, or harm caused to you through your use of this service.
- Houfy may restrict, suspend, or terminate your Houfy account and/or disable your articles for any violation of the Terms and Conditions. Please refer to our Terms and conditions for full details.
- Houfy will disable accounts found using infringing content.
Please don't publish anything you don't have permission to share. This includes other people's articles, things that you've found on the Internet, or content that belongs to your employer but not you. Most content on the Internet belongs to someone, and unless you have clear permission from the owner to share it, you shouldn't include it in your articles. You can republish something that you have published somewhere else, as long as it is original content that you own the rights to.
All Houfy hosts are eligible to create custom URLs. These custom URLs can be set up to direct people to your listing.
- A Houfy host with multiple listings can set up one custom URL for each of their listings or choose a custom URL for the combined listings at Menu > My Listings
- Each listing can only have one custom URL: Menu > My Listings > Edit
Each URL is valid only while the listing or account is active and may be forfeited if the listing or account is deactivated or removed from Houfy for any reason.
You don’t own your custom URL, and upon any violation of this policy or Houfy's terms, Houfy may end your use of it. Here are the policies to follow when creating a custom URL.
Custom URLs can't include:
Any variation of the word "Houfy" or any other content that violates our brand guidelines (TBA)
- The word "verified"
- The word "official" unless sanctioned by the person, place, or organization with whom the connection is asserted
- Symbols or punctuation, except for hyphens
- Fewer than five characters
- Anything that violates Houfy's acceptable use policy
Custom URLs can't consist only of:
- Generic property types (for example, Apartment, Cottage, Loft, Home)
- Generic geographic locations (for example, Miami)
- Numbers (all URLs must contain at least one letter)
Some examples of acceptable URLs:
Tax advise for short-term Lodging/Vacation Rentals & Hotels:
There are only a few countries and states that exempt short-term lodging/vacation rentals/hotels from taxes. Short term renting triggers the requirement to collect and remit taxes. These taxes (known by many names: sales tax, occupancy tax, lodging tax, room tax, accommodations tax, bed tax, hotel tax, etc.) are different from the income taxes, which are filed once a year.
These taxes are paid to City, County and/or State tax agencies each month and quarter. They play an important part in funding the local infrastructure where your rental resides such as tourism promotion, beach preservation, transportation system, airline subsidies, snow removal and other operating costs to support tourist visitation.
As the popularity and growth of short term renting & specifically vacation rentals has risen; so, has the enforcement of these taxes. Tax agencies nationwide and internationally are monitoring vacation rental sites in search of violators.
These taxes are charged on total consideration (money or value) received from the renter, including rent, cleaning fees and any other mandatory fees such as a booking fee, extra person charge, pet fee, etc. Refundable deposits are not taxable.
For US residents: Please review below: Topic 415 from the IRS
Topic 415 - Renting Residential and Vacation Property
If you receive rental income for the use of a dwelling unit, such as a house or an apartment, you may deduct certain expenses. These expenses, which may include mortgage interest, real estate taxes, casualty losses, maintenance, utilities, insurance, and depreciation, will reduce the amount of rental income that is subject to tax.
If you are renting to make a profit and do not use the dwelling unit as a personal residence, then your deductible rental expenses may be more than your gross rental income. Your rental losses, however, generally will be limited by the "at-risk" rules and/or the passive activity loss rules. For information on these limits, refer to Publication 925 , Passive Activities and At-Risk Rules.
If you rent a dwelling unit to others that you also use as a personal residence, limitations may apply to the rental expenses you can deduct. You are considered to use a dwelling unit as a personal residence if you use it for personal purposes during the tax year for more than the greater of:
- 14 days, or
- 10% of the total days you rent it to others at a fair rental price.
It is possible that you will use more than one dwelling unit as a personal residence during the year. For example, if you live in your main home for 11 months, your home is a dwelling unit used as a personal residence. If you live in your vacation home for the other 30 days of the year, your vacation home is also a dwelling unit used as a personal residence unless you rent your vacation home to others at a fair rental value for 300 or more days during the year.
A day of personal use of a dwelling unit is any day that it is used by:
- You or any other person who has an interest in it, unless you rent your interest to another owner as his or her main home under a shared equity financing agreement
- A member of your family or of a family of any other person who has an interest in it, unless the family member uses it as his or her main home and pays a fair rental price
- Anyone under an agreement that lets you use some other dwelling unit
- Anyone at less than fair rental price
If you use the dwelling unit for both rental and personal purposes, you generally must divide your total expenses between the rental use and the personal use based on the number of days used for each purpose. You will not be able to deduct your rental expense in excess of the gross rental income limitation (your gross rental income less the rental portion of mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and casualty losses, and rental expenses like realtors's fees and advertising costs). However, you may be able to carry forward some of these rental expenses to the next year, subject to the gross rental income limitation for that year. If you itemize your deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A (PDF), Itemized Deductions, you may still be able to deduct your personal portion of mortgage interest, property taxes, and casualty losses on that schedule.
There is a special rule if you use a dwelling unit as a personal residence and rent it for fewer than 15 days. In this case, do not report any of the rental income and do not deduct any expenses as rental expenses.
Another special rule applies if you rent part of your home to your employer and provide services for your employer in that rented space. In this case, report the rental income. You can deduct mortgage interest, qualified mortgage insurance premiums, real estate taxes, and personal casualty losses for the rented part, subject to any limitations, but do not deduct any business expenses. For information on these limits, refer to Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home (Including Use by Daycare Providers).
If you have a rental income, you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT). For more information, refer to Topic 559.
For more information on offering residential property for rent, refer to Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes).
Are pet fees taxable? Pet fees are taxable in some jurisdictions. Please check with the specific tax jurisdiction(s) to determine whether or not pet fees are considered taxable revenue.
Are cleaning fees taxable? Any charge that is mandatory or a condition of the rental is taxable, and therefore should be included in the revenue that you report at the end of the tax period. If cleaning is not optional, then it is taxable.
Check out Avalara for tax services:
The information below was obtained from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.
Complaints filed with HUD are investigated by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). If the complaint is not successfully conciliated, FHEO determines whether reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred. Where reasonable cause is found , the parties to the complaint are notified by HUD's issuance of a Determination, as well as a Charge of Discrimination, and a hearing is scheduled before a HUD administrative law judge. Either party - complainant or respondent - may cause the HUD-scheduled administrative proceeding to be terminated by electing instead to have the matter litigated in Federal court. Whenever a party has so elected, the Department of Justice takes over HUD's role as counsel seeking resolution of the charge on behalf of aggrieved persons, and the matter proceeds as a civil action. Either form of action - the ALJ proceeding or the civil action in Federal court - is subject to review in the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Get basic facts about the Fair Housing Act:
1. What Housing Is Covered?
The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts 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.
2. What Is Prohibited?
In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Make housing unavailable
- Deny a dwelling
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Provide different housing services or facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
- For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
- Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.
In Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):
- Refuse to make a mortgage loan
- Refuse to provide information regarding loans
- Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
- Discriminate in appraising property
- Refuse to purchase a loan or
- Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.
In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:
- Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
- Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
3. Additional Protection if You Have a Disability
If you or someone associated with you:
- Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- Have a record of such a disability or
- Are regarded as having such a disability
your landlord may not:
- Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
Example: A building with a no pets policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.
Example: An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.
However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.
4. Requirements for New Buildings
In buildings that are ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator and four or more units:
- Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
- Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
- All units must have:
- An accessible route into and through the unit
- Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls
- Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars and
- Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
If a building with four or more units has no elevator and will be ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units.
These requirements for new buildings do not replace any more stringent standards in State or local law.
5. Housing Opportunities for Families
Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:
- A parent
- A person who has legal custody of the child or children or
- The designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian's written permission.
Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.
Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
- The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program or
- It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or
- It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.
A transition period permits residents on or before September 13, 1988, to continue living in the housing, regardless of their age, without interfering with the exemption.
If you think your rights have been violated
HUD is ready to help with any problem of housing discrimination. If you think your rights have been violated, the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form is available for you to download, complete and return, or complete online and submit, or you may write HUD a letter, or telephone the HUD Office nearest you. You have one year after an alleged violation to file a complaint with HUD, but you should file it as soon as possible.
Step 1: What to Tell HUD:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the person your complaint is against (the respondent)
- The address or other identification to the housing involved
- A short description to the alleged violation (the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated)
- The date(s) to the alleged violation
Step 2:Where to Write or Call:
Send the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form or a letter to the HUD Office nearest you or you may call that office directly.
If You Are Disabled:
HUD also provides:
- A toll-free TTY phone for the hearing impaired: 1-800-927-9275.
- Tapes and braille materials
- Assistance in reading and completing forms
What happens when you file a complaint:
HUD will notify you when it receives your complaint. Normally, HUD also will:
- Notify the alleged violator of your complaint and permit that person to submit an answer
- Investigate your complaint and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe the Fair Housing Act has been violated
- Notify you if it cannot complete an investigation within 100 days of receiving your complaint
HUD will try to reach an agreement with the person your complaint is against (the respondent). A conciliation agreement must protect both you and the public interest. If an agreement is signed, HUD will take no further action on your complaint. However, if HUD has reasonable cause to believe that a conciliation agreement is breached, HUD will recommend that the Attorney General file suit.
If HUD has determined that your State or local agency has the same fair housing powers as HUD, HUD will refer your complaint to that agency for investigation and notify you of the referral. That agency must begin work on your complaint within 30 days or HUD may take it back.
What if You Need Help Quickly?
If you need immediate help to stop a serious problem that is being caused by a Fair Housing Act violation, HUD may be able to assist you as soon as you file a complaint. HUD may authorize the Attorney General to go to court to seek temporary or preliminary relief, pending the outcome of your complaint, if:
- Irreparable harm is likely to occur without HUD's intervention
- There is substantial evidence that a violation of the Fair Housing Act occurred
Example: A builder agrees to sell a house but, after learning the buyer is black, fails to keep the agreement. The buyer files a complaint with HUD. HUD may authorize the Attorney General to go to court to prevent a sale to any other buyer until HUD investigates the complaint.
What Happens after a Complaint Investigation?
If, after investigating your complaint, HUD finds reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, it will inform you. Your case will be heard in an administrative hearing within 120 days, unless you or the respondent want the case to be heard in Federal district court. Either way, there is no cost to you.
The Administrative Hearing:
If your case goes to an administrative hearing HUD attorneys will litigate the case on your behalf. You may intervene in the case and be represented by your own attorney if you wish. An Administrative Law Judge (ALA) will consider evidence from you and the respondent. If the ALA decides that discrimination occurred, the respondent can be ordered:
- To compensate you for actual damages, including humiliation, pain and suffering.
- To provide injunctive or other equitable relief, for example, to make the housing available to you.
- To pay the Federal Government a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest. The maximum penalties are $16,000 for a first violation and $70,000 for a third violation within seven years.
- To pay reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
Federal District Court
If you or the respondent choose to have your case decided in Federal District Court, the Attorney General will file a suit and litigate it on your behalf. Like the ALA, the District Court can order relief, and award actual damages, attorney's fees and costs. In addition, the court can award punitive damages.
You May File Suit: You may file suit, at your expense, in Federal District Court or State Court within two years of an alleged violation. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Court may appoint one for you. You may bring suit even after filing a complaint, if you have not signed a conciliation agreement and an Administrative Law Judge has not started a hearing. A court may award actual and punitive damages and attorney's fees and costs.
Other Tools to Combat Housing Discrimination:
If there is noncompliance with the order of an Administrative Law Judge, HUD may seek temporary relief, enforcement of the order or a restraining order in a United States Court of Appeals.
The Attorney General may file a suit in a Federal District Court if there is reasonable cause to believe a pattern or practice of housing discrimination is occurring.
For Further Information:
The Fair Housing Act and HUD's regulations contain more detail and technical information. If you need a copy of the law or regulations, contact the HUD Office nearest you.
Last updated: January 22, 2019