Fair Housing Laws in Cities Can Protect More Classes

  Question: In a recent column you said that age is not a protected class under state and federal fair housing laws, and that senior citizens have no protection under fair housing laws just because they are old, e.g., some senior citizens run marathons. You also said, however, that many senior citizens are “disabled,” which is a protected class under state and federal fair housing laws. You are correct about state and federal fair housing laws, but cities and towns can provide in their fair housing laws for additional protected classes. For example, age by itself is a protected class in Tucson. Therefore, in rental housing near the University of Arizona campus a landlord in Tucson is not allowed to advertise “all tenants signing the lease must be over 30.”

  Answer: Thank you for the information. Fair housing laws, like many other laws, have evolved over the years. In the original Fair Housing Act of 1968 the only protected classes were race, religion, national origin, and sex. Today, two additional protected classes under fair housing laws are familial status (families with children) and disability. Although towns and cities can have their own fair housing laws, state fair housing laws generally mirror federal fair housing laws. The reason is that the Attorney General in Arizona and attorney generals in other states are then able to enforce all fair housing laws.

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