It has been illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act to discriminate because of religious beliefs-or lack of religious beliefs since 1968. Prior to that it was common to see rental ads saying “No Negroes or Jews” or “Christians only”. It is illegal to refuse to rent or sell because of religion or to treat tenants, home buyers or HOA members differently because of religion.

These are some examples of illegal discrimination based on religion:

  • A property manager telling a rental applicant that he has no vacancies when, in fact, he does because he feels uncomfortable because she is a Muslim wearing a head scarf (hijab);
  • An on-site manager giving extra privileges in an apartment complex to a resident because they are both members of the same church;
  • Requiring residents to decorate their residences for Christmas.
  • A landlord harassing a resident because she is an Atheist;
  • An HOA board requiring an applicant for a condo to bring a letter from his pastor as part of the application process;
  • A property manager not taking action when she knows a resident is being harassed by another resident because he is Jewish;
  • The operator of an assistance living facility requiring residents to participate in Bible study;
  • Permitting members of a faith to use the community room for religious gatherings, but not members of another faith.

All apartment buildings- both subsidized and conventional, condos, retirement communities, assisted living communities, adult foster care homes, student housing, etc. should provide a welcoming and inclusive environment to residents of all faiths. One example is being sensitive during the holiday season and welcoming symbols of different religions practiced by residents.