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National Origin, Religion, & Immigration Status

The Fair Housing Act includes religion and national origin in its protected classes. Discrimination based on immigration status is often directly related to national origin or religion.

Housing providers can ask for identification and conduct credit checks to ensure ability to pay rent. Some housing providers might ask if you are in the country legally, ask to see your green card or visa, or ask for your social security number to see if you can fulfill the lease’s terms. 

Housing providers, however, cannot use this information to deny an applicant, or charge different prices solely on the basis of your national origin, religion, and immigration status.

If you think that you are being asked about your immigration status for discriminatory purposes, please call us toll-free at 1-877-979-FAIR.

National origin discrimination: different treatment in housing because of a person’s ancestry, ethnicity, birthplace, culture, or language.

Examples of potential national origin discrimination include:

  • Refusing to rent to persons whose primary language is not English
  • Offering different rental rates
  • Failing to provide the same level of service or housing amenities.
  • Steering prospective buyers or renters to or away from certain neighborhoods or buildings

Protections Under the Fair Housing Act

Because of protections under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers cannot:
Examples of harassment or threats include:

If you hear…

You have to speak English.

Go back to your own country.

What religion are you?

You might feel more comfortable in another neighborhood.

Don’t cook that, it smells.

Then you may be experiencing housing discrimination.

The FHC Can Help With Housing Discrimination.

If you believe you have been the victim of housing discrimination, please call us toll-free at 1-877-979-FAIR to discuss the situation.

Information provided about allegations or complaints of housing discrimination will be kept confidential. We will not report undocumented immigrants to the authorities.

Retaliation is illegal. Any attempt should be immediately reported to the FHC.

If you do come into contact with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after you have filed a complaint with the FHC or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), you should notify ICE that you are pursuing a fair housing complaint. It is illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with a person’s exercise or enjoyment of rights granted or protected by the Fair Housing Act. 

This includes threats to report a person to ICE if they report housing discrimination to HUD or the FHC. HUD and the FHC do not inquire about immigration status when investigating claims of housing discrimination.

Other Resources

Immigration Status and Housing Discrimination Frequently Asked Questions – U.S. Housing and Urban Development, 2012

Fair Housing Rights for Renters, in Arabic, Chinese, English, and Spanish Languages

Download our National Origin, Religion, and Immigration Status Fact Sheet (PDF)
Hoja De Hechos: Nacionalidad, Religion, y Estado Migratorio (PDF)

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