Fair Housing Laws

The chart on this page and the Federal Laws highlighted below summarize some of the various laws/protected classes applicable to rental and sale of housing (and other housing-related transactions) in Illinois and the Chicago Metropolitan Area. It is not meant to be an exhaustive review of the various laws and there are important provisions not listed here, including local ordinances from other counties and municipalities that may impact your location. Please call us at 630-690-6500 or “contact us” using the link in the menu bar above if you have questions about what fair housing laws may apply to your community.

Summary Chart of Laws/Protected Classes

Cells with an “x” indicate that a protected class is covered by the indicated source.

Protected Class Federal Fair Housing Act Illinois Human Rights Act Cook County Human Rights Ordinance Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance
Race x x x x
Color x x x x
Religion x x x x
National Origin x x x x
Sex (including sexual harassment) x x x x
Familial Status (children) x x x x
Disability x x x x
Ancestry x x x
Age x x x
Marital Status x x x
Military/Veteran Status x x x
Sexual Orientation* x x x
Unfavorable Military Discharge x x x
Order of Protection Status (Domestic Violence) x
Source of Income x x x
Gender Identity* x x
Housing Status x
Arrest Record x
Pregnancy Status x
Immigration Status (2024)

*Currently, these groups are federally protected under "Sex".

Fair Housing Act

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act, was passed to address discrimination in the housing market. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability in a variety of housing and housing-related activities. This includes the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, along with protections against other discriminatory practices.

Precedent Setting Fair Housing Cases


Meyer v. Holley held that the Fair Housing Act imposes strict liability on residential real estate corporations for racial discrimination, but generally not on the officers and owners of the corporation.


Jones v. Mayer held that Congress could use its enforcement power under the Thirteenth Amendment to prohibit private racial discrimination in the sale of property


Trafficante v. Metropolitan held that integration was part of the legislative intent of the Fair Housing Act.


Chicago v. Matchmaker held that an employer can be held liable for housing discrimination on the part of their employees even if they have instructed said employees not to engage in discrimination.


Havens v. Coleman upheld the right of any person to truthful information regarding the availability of housing.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits discrimination by creditors against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, source of income, or because an applicant exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

Community Reinvestment Act

Established by Congress in 1977, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires that banks and other deposit-taking financial institutions offer equal access to lending, investment, and other services within the geographic area surrounding each branch. The CRA was passed to address redlining, the practice of denying communities of color and low-income neighborhoods access to loans, investments, and other financial services.

Housing for Older Persons Act

The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 amended the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to address issues that arose concerning exemptions for senior housing when the FHA was amended to include protections against discrimination on the basis of familial status.

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act

Passed in 1975, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) requires banks and financial institutions to report data about mortgages to the general public. These data are important for ensuring that lenders are serving communities fairly and without discrimination.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed to extend a number of federal protections to people with disabilities in a variety of circumstances. Section 504 of the Act extended protections to people with disabilities in employment, education, and housing if these programs receive federal financial assistance. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has an obligation to ensure individuals do not face discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving HUD funds.

Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for people with disabilities in a variety of areas, including employment, government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and housing.

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs that receive federal funds.

Civil Rights Act of 1866

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was the nation’s first civil rights law, and affirms that all citizens are protected equally by law.

Truth in Lending Act

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) promotes the informed use of consumer credit, by requiring disclosures about its terms and cost to standardize the manner in which costs associated with borrowing are calculated and disclosed.



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