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4 Fair Housing Act Myths in Maryland

Small Wooden home in front of a document being filled outAs a landlord or a tenant, you are probably aware of the Fair Housing Act. This piece of legislation is designed to prevent discrimination during the process of selling or leasing real estate properties on the basis of a protected category (color, race, religion, sex, familial status, national origin). Because this law is so vast, there are many Fair Housing Act myths that both landlords and tenants fall for.

4 Fair Housing Act Myths

  1. The Fair Housing Act Is the Only Law Landlords Must Follow: Beyond the Fair Housing Act, Maryland landlords also need to obey the fair housing practices outlined by the state government. One of the rights that Maryland grants to tenants is the freedom from discrimination in housing activities, which gives tenants a second layer of protection.
  2. Marital Status, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Are Not Protected: While this Fair Housing Act myth is true on a federal level, it is not when considered alongside Maryland’s rules. Maryland protects three additional classes of people, so landlords in the state cannot discriminate based on color, disability, familial status, race, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, gender identity or sexual orientation.
  3. It Stops After Move-In: One of the most common fair housing act myths is that the protections stop applying once the tenant moves in. However, that is not the case. Landlords cannot pressure tenants to move because they belong to a certain protected class or charge higher rents or security deposits as a result.
  4. There Are No Exemptions: While the Fair Housing Act and Maryland state regulations might seem fairly cut and dry, there are some exemptions. If the owner-occupant rents out rooms in a property that they currently occupy or the owner-occupant rents out units in a property with 5 or fewer units, they do not need to follow the fair housing rules for gender identity, marital status, sex or sexual orientation. However, that owner-occupant must still follow the guidelines regarding color, disability, family status, race, religion and national origin.
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