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Working to achieve Fair Housing

Last updated: 5/13/16

Working to achieve Fair Housing

Find out how the commission enforces Fair Housing Laws in Boston.


Our Commission makes sure that property owners don't discriminate against tenants or buyers. In the City of Boston, It's illegal to discriminate when renting or selling a house.

You can’t discriminate someone based on their:

  • race, color, nationality, or ancestry
  • gender identity or sex
  • sexual orientation
  • marital status
  • military status
  • disability, religion, or age
  • where their income comes from (for example, renters using the Section 8 program), or
  • family status. For example, a landlord can’t discriminate against someone if they have children.

Learn who else is protected by the Fair Housing Act.


Discrimination comes in many forms. Some examples of housing discrimination include:

  • The landlord tells you they don't accept rental assistance or Section 8 vouchers.
  • You are told you should or shouldn't live in certain neighborhoods based on your race, religion, or disability.
  • The property owner tells you the apartment has been rented, but you later see it listed again.
  • You were told your family can't rent a property because there is lead paint.
  • The terms of your rental or sale are different than the terms of other tenants. For example, you might be paying different fees.

Learn about examples of housing discrimination.


The first thing you should do is file a complaint. Our commission takes discrimination seriously and will investigate all complaints. If we find that there has been discrimination, we’ll try to resolve the complaint.

If we can’t resolve the issue, we will:

  • hold a public hearing
  • award you money
  • fine the guilty property owner
  • order the property owner to take steps to prevent discrimination in the future, and
  • follow up on your case to make sure the guilty property owner is sticking with any agreements.

If the discrimination happened outside of Boston, you'll need to file a complaint through the State. You can also contact the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston.

Still have questions? Contact:
Fair Housing and Equity
1 City Hall Square
Room 966
Boston, MA 02201-2041
United States
Need to know

Learn more about housing discrimination through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.