Discrimination in Housing

The Missouri Human Rights Act (Act) makes it illegal to discriminate in any aspect of housing because of an individual’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, familial status (children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and disability including:

  • Refusing to rent or sell housing
  • Refusing to negotiate for the sale or rental of housing
  • Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Making housing unavailable to certain individuals
  • Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • Providing different housing services or facilities to certain individuals
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting)
  • Denying certain individuals access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

In Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, familial status, or disability:

  • Refusing to make a mortgage loan
  • Refusing to provide information regarding loans
  • Imposing different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
  • Discriminating in appraising a property
  • Refusing to purchase a loan
  • Setting different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.

In addition, it is illegal for a housing provider to:

  • Harass an individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, familial status, or disability
  • Retaliate against an individual for filing a complaint of discrimination, participating in an investigation or hearing, or opposing discriminatory practices
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, familial status, or disability.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in housing, you can file a complaint of discrimination.

Additional Housing Protection Exists if you are a Person with a Disability

If you or someone with whom you are associated has a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such a disability, or is regarded as having such a disability, then your landlord may not:

  • Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common-use areas, at your expense, if necessary for you to use and enjoy the housing.
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services if necessary for the person with a disability to use and enjoy the housing.

Requirements for New Buildings

accessibility assessment

Buildings that were ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator and four or more units are subject to the following requirements:

  • Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs.
  • All units must have:
  1. An accessible route into and through the unit
  2. Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls
  3. Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and
  4. Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.

If a building has four or more units and no elevator and was ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground-floor units.

View the Fair Housing Act Design Manual for the accessibility requirements for covered multi-family dwellings.

Housing Opportunities for Families

Unless an apartment building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under the age of 18 live with a parent, a person who has legal custody of the child or children, or the designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian's written permission. Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under the age of 18.

Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:

  • It houses at least one person who is 55 years of age or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates intent to house persons who are 55 years of age or older
  • It is intended for, and solely occupied by, persons 62 years of age or older
  • It is specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons, as defined in a state or federal program.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in housing, you can file a complaint of discrimination.

IMPORTANT: Landlords, housing providers, real estate agents, and brokers are required to post notices advising tenants and customers of their rights under the Act and their right to be free from retaliation. Such notices must be accessible, as needed, to persons with visual or other disabilities that affect reading. These posters are available for printing.

What is Fair Housing?

Fair housing means all people have equal access to the housing of their choice that they can afford. Fair housing laws ensure this equal access.

Both the Missouri Human Rights Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act mandate that people have equal housing opportunities and not be subjected to discrimination in housing based upon certain protected categories, including race, color, national origin, religion, physical or mental disability, sex, or for having children in their household.

Fair housing laws apply to the sale or rental of nearly all forms of residences, including apartments, houses, mobile homes, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and even vacant lots to be developed for housing. Anyone who has control over residential property or real estate financing must obey state and federal fair housing laws, including landlords, rental managers, property owners, real estate agents, bankers, developers, builders, and certain individual homeowners who are selling or renting property.

MCHR and HUD safeguard the protections set out in state and federal fair housing laws and enforce the laws within their jurisdictions. Both MCHR and HUD are committed to preventing discrimination and encouraging the fair treatment of all persons.