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Dear Fair Housing Lady,

My owner doesn’t want to rent to folks who have Section 8 vouchers.  I am not sure I agree with that opinion, but more importantly, I don’t want to get into fair housing trouble!  And now my owner has placed an ad that says “No Section 8.”  Is this even a fair housing issue?  I’m sweating here (and my property is not even in a hot weather area)!


Anxious Leasing Manager

Dear Anxious,

Oh, my.  I may not be able to mitigate that anxiety of yours because the answer to your question whether not accepting Section 8 is a fair housing issue is this (drum roll, please)…IT DEPENDS!  (And here you came to me for some concrete direction.)  It is not that I am trying to be difficult or avoid your question, but the answer really is “it depends.”  And what it depends on is where your particular apartment community is located.  Is your community in a state, city, county, or township that has made “Source of Income” a protected class?  If that is the case, then the answer is “maybe” – if Section 8 has been deemed to be a source of income then yes, this is a fair housing issue and you must accept vouchers (and you can’t advertise that you won’t).  If your community is in a state, city, county, or township that has actually made “Section 8” a protected class, then of course you must accept vouchers (if the prospects otherwise qualify).  But if your community is in a state, city, county or township that has not addressed source of income or Section 8 as protected classes in housing, then you need not accept the vouchers and you may advertise that you don’t.

So, time to grab a towel, wipe off that sweat, and get to work by calling the attorney who assists your owner, or your local apartment association, or even your local fair housing organization, and find out what if any protections are in place (state and local) for where your community is located.   Then conform your policies and procedures and advertising to be in compliance with state and local laws.



Fair Housing Lady is the alter-ego of Nadeen Green, Senior Counsel with For Rent Media SolutionsTM.  While that makes her our attorney, she is not yours, so her information is not legal advice for you.  She would love to have your questions for future newsletter appearances (so she doesn’t have to make the questions up, which is just extra work), so send them to [email protected].

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Nadeen Green is the senior legal counsel for For Rent Media Solutions. She has been an attorney and has taught Fair Housing law to the multi-family housing industry for decades, presenting more than 1,150 programs to management companies and apartment associations nationwide, including the National Apartment Association, IREM and AIM. Her reader-friendly articles and guest blogs appear regularly in publications and on websites, and she blogs as Fair Housing Lady at http://fairhousing.forrent.com/. Nadeen lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Ned.



  1. Maybe…maybe not. It seems to me, even if the property is located in an area where “Source of Income” is not a protected class under fair housing laws, it could be argued that refusal to accept housing vouchers may amount to racial discrimination. My question… are the majority of housing voucher recipients in the area where the housing is located members of any particular race? Could refusal to accept “Section 8” vouchers be construed as a well-disguised effort to exclude that particular race from housing opportunities? (I’m not an attorney, but am concerned this argument could be made, depending upon the circumstances mentioned.)

  2. Jennifer Wood says:

    Judy, thank you for your comments and question. Generally, fair housing law does not cover “disparate impact” as does employment law. So even if certain groups were more likely to miss out on housing because landlords are not taking Section 8 vouchers (where not mandated by law), it would be unlikely that a fair housing claim would prevail. Add to that the legislative intent that such vouchers were to be a voluntary choice for landlords, and the resulting choice not to accept such most likely will not create a fair housing liability for a landlord. Hope this helps clarify, but if not we can “chat” more on this. -The Fair Housing Lady

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  4. Judy, I think it is racist to imply that section 8 is a disquise for people to exclude a certain race from renting with them. Section 8 includes all races in equal amounts of each race, according to the percentage of that race of person in the state. There would be absolutely no way that section 8 is a way for people to be discriminated.

  5. Hi, Nicole. Fair Housing Lady here, weighing in on the dialogue. I did some research on the HUD website and I am not seeing any indication that Section 8 house choice vouchers are issued in racial proportions. The program was originally created to assist very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled; HUD itself does not discriminate based on race as to deciding who might get vouchers. Judy’s point was that if certain racial groups are statistically “over-represented” among low-income earners, then when a landlord chooses not to accept Section 8 vouchers, it is possible that a legal argument could be made that such refusal impacts one race more than another. If a landlord is not accepting the vouchers, it does not mean the landlord is “racist”; it often means that the landlord does not want to deal with the administrative challenges that dealing with the government can sometimes create.

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