Fair Housing

Fair Housing

Where you live affects every part of your life. It will determine where you sleep, where you work, and where your children will go to school. If you are prevented from living in the neighborhood you choose because of discrimination, report it. Illegal practices hurt everyone.

**The information contained herein is not intended to be used as legal advice. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance.**


In 1965, Ohio became one of the first states to enact Fair Housing Legislation. On June 30, 1992, Governor George Voinovich signed House Bill 321, which enacted changes in the classes of persons protected by the Ohio Fair Housing Law, and significantly enhanced the enforcement powers of The Ohio Civil Rights Commission. The law gives all persons in the protected classes the right to live wherever they can afford to buy a home or rent an apartment.

In Ohio it is unlawful on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, familial status, or military status to:

a. refuse to rent, sell, finance, or insure housing accommodations or residential property

b. represent to any person that housing accommodations are not available for inspection, sale, rental or lease

c. refuse to lend money for the purchase, construction, repair, rehabilitation, or maintenance of housing accommodations or residential property

d. discriminate against any person in the purchase, renewal, or terms and conditions of fire, extended coverage, or home owner’s or renter’s insurance

e. refuse to consider without prejudice the combined income of both spouses.

f. print, publish, or circulate any statement or advertisement which would indicate a preference or limitation.

g. deny any person membership in any multiple listing services, or real estate broker’s organization.

The law covers all housing accommodations, residential buildings, vacant lots, or other property used for residential purposes. However, religious, fraternal, or bona fide private organizations that provide housing accommodations may give a preference to their own members.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended in 1988, also prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. Familial status means either one or more minors (under the age of 18) who live with a parent or guardian or any person who is pregnant, or in the process of securing legal custody of any minor. The familial status provision, with limited exceptions, prohibits a housing provider from denying housing to families with children; however, protection is not applicable if housing is intended for, and to be occupied only by persons 62 years or older; or at least one person 55 years or older resides in each unit.

The law states that protection is provided for persons who have a disability as defined by the law, or who have a history of a disability, or who are perceived as being disabled. The law also protects those persons who are associated with a disabled person.

Reasonable accommodation for a person’s disability, and/or modifications of the housing accommodations that will afford the person with a disability full enjoyment of the premises or services of the housing accommodations, must be provided for all common use areas. Under some circumstances the landlord, manager or owner must pay the expense of these reasonable accommodations or modifications. Under other circumstances, that cost can be paid by the occupant or user of the housing accommodations. All new construction designed or first occupied on or after March 13, 1991, must meet accessibility standards for persons with disabilities.

Landlord/Tenant Issues

The Fair Housing Consortia can assist tenants with information regarding issues they may be having with their landlords, as well as assist landlords with information regarding issues they may be having with their tenants.  The Fair Housing Consortia always maintains a neutral role with both parties, unless it is discovered that a landlord is violating United States Fair Housing Act rules and regulations.

How do I know if I'm being discriminated against?
Housing discrimination can be very hard to detect. Often, individuals may suspect they have been discriminated against, but are not sure they can prove it.  You have a right to file a complaint if you feel you have been discriminated against.

The federal law prohibits discrimination based upon race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status. The Ohio law prohibits discrimination based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex, familial status, disability and military status.

Do you think you may have been discriminated against?  See below for examples of housing discrimination and contact us if you believe there is a problem.

  • Refusing to sell or rent housing
  • "Steering" of tenants by landlords to or from certain areas of a housing complex
  • “Steering" of prospective home buyers by real estate professionals to or from certain areas of a community
  • Falsely denying that housing is available
  • Discrimination in the terms/conditions of housing (rent, security deposits, use of facilities, etc.)
  • Discriminatory advertising
  • Use of threats, intimidation, or coercion

Tips for Landlords and Tenants

Both landlords and tenants have obligations and responsibilities under Ohio law.  Look below to find out if your landlord or tenant is acting within the scope of the law before seeking a remedy.

Landlord Obligations (Ohio Revised Code 5321.04)

  1. Comply with the requirements of all applicable building, housing, health, and safety codes.
  2. Make all repairs and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.
  3. Keep all common areas of the premises in a safe and sanitary condition.
  4. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures as well as appliances and any elevators that you supply or are required to supply.
  5. Provide garbage cans and arrange for pickup (only if there are four or more units in the same building).
  6. Supply running water, reasonable amounts of hot water and reasonable heat at all times, with limited exceptions.
  7. Not abuse the right of access.
  8. Except in the case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, give the tenant reasonable notice before entering and enter only at reasonable times.  Twenty-four hours is presumed to be a reasonable notice.
  9. Begin eviction proceedings when you have actual knowledge of or have reasonable cause to believe drug activity is occurring in or connected with the tenant's premises by the tenant, a member of the tenant's household or a guest.

Tenant Obligations (Ohio Revised Code 5321.04)

  1. Keep the premises safe and sanitary.
  2. Dispose of all rubbish, garbage, and other waste in a clean, safe, and sanitary manner.
  3. Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit as clean as their condition permits.
  4. Use and operate all electrical and plumbing fixtures properly.
  5. Comply with the requirements of state and local housing, health, and safety codes.
  6. Personally refrain and forbid guests from intentionally or negligently destroying, defacing, damaging, or removing any fixture, appliance, or other part of the premises.
  7. Maintain in good working order and condition any and all appliances supplied by the landlord and required to be maintained by the tenant under the terms and conditions of your written rental agreement.
  8. Conduct yourself and require other persons to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
  9. Comply with state and local drug laws in and around the premises and require your household members and guests to do the same.

If you feel you are being discriminated against, the Fair Housing Consortia can help you through one of the following FREE programs and services:

  • Community awareness programs
  • Fair Housing presentations, workshops, and seminars
  • Assistance to victims of housing discrimination
  • Educational materials that inform both tenants and landlords of their rights and responsibilities under federal, state, and city Fair Housing laws

Not sure if you are being discriminated against? Here are some common examples of Housing Discrimination that you should look out for:

  • The owner or manager refuses to tell you why the unit is not available
  • The rent or deposit is higher than advertised
  • The manager says the unit is rented, but the "For Rent" sign is still posted
  • The manager tells you, "You won't like it here, there's no place for your kids to play."
  • The manager says there are occupancy limits that seem strange, such as three people in a two-bedroom unit
  • The manager asks about your marital status, race, the nature of your disability, or your national origin
  • Your application is refused without explanation

To make sure you have everything you might need during an investigation, always be sure to write down the following information when you are looking for an apartment or house:

  • The name of the manager or agent
  • The address of the building
  • The apartment number
  • The number of bedrooms
  • Personal information requested of you
  • Any information that you volunteered
  • The requirements for occupancy
  • When the unit will become available
  • How you found out about the apartment or house
  • Amount of rent and deposit


Advertising Guidelines Checklist

According to the federal fair housing law, advertising for the sale or rental of property may not state a preference for any person or an intention to exclude any person because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

The prohibition of discriminatory intent applies to the use of media, such as newspapers, radio, television, or billboards, and any written material produced in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling, such as application forms, brochures, flyers, signs, posters, or banners.

To comply with the law, avoid:

  • Using words or phrases describing the dwelling, landlord, or tenants. Examples are: white private home, colored home, Jewish home, Hispanic residence, adult building, or other words indicative of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
  • Conveying preference to one group over another or exclusion due to race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status (children under 18) or national origin.
  • Using catchwords, such as restricted, exclusive, private, integrated, traditional, board approval, membership approval.
  • Using symbols or logotypes that imply or suggest discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status (children under 18), or national origin.
  • Writing out directions to the property that refer to well-known racial, ethnic, or religious landmarks or to any other major landmark that could signal a preference for a specific type of person.
  • Targeting advertisements to one particular segment of the community.
  • Using only adult or white models over a significant period of time.
  • Using prohibited words or phrases with respect to handicapped persons or families with children.


The Fair Housing Act permits;

  • Indicating that rental property is accessible to handicapped individuals; or intended for and operated as housing for older persons;
  • Using the equal housing opportunity logotype, statement, or slogan in all advertising.
  • Using human models who:
    • Represent all races and age segments of the population in the area, including families with children and handicapped persons.
    • Vary periodically so that diverse groups in your community are featured - majority and minority in the metropolitan area, both sexes, families with children (when appropriate).
    • Portray persons in an equal social setting.
    • Indicate to the general public that housing is available to all persons, regardless of status.


It is recommended that every ad displays the equal housing opportunity logo and slogan. All advertising and marketing materials include the equal housing opportunity logo and slogan.

The following statement is also used in ads of four column inches or more and may be used in place of the logo.

“We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, familial status or disability.”

When the equal housing opportunity logo is displayed in an ad that shows other logos, it must be at least equal in size to the largest of the other logos, other than the company name. An example would include the real estate logo, MLS logo etc.