Craigslist is starting to push back against discriminatory housing ads that violate the Fair Housing Act. They now link to an entertaining Clinton-era HUD memo (pdf link) outlining some dos and don'ts.
- I'd have guessed that all the ads saying, for instance, "Female housemate wanted" were verboten, but I'd have been wrong -- there's a shared living exception, which is not spelled out in the document. However, shared living means shared living: you don't qualify if the "housing being advertised is actually a separate dwelling unit without shared living spaces."
- There's another exemption for "housing for older persons", which the memo for some reason feels compelled to contrast against ads "indicating an exclusion for families with children," which are bad.
- "Race, color, and national origin" are federally protected, so "no Irish" will get you in trouble.
- "Christian home" violates the religious test as badly as "no Jews". Craigslist has a bunch of the former.
- Anticipating Bill O'Reilly by nine or ten years, "The use of secularized terms or symbols relating to religious holidays such as Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or St. Valentine's Day images, or phrases such as 'Merry Christmas', 'Happy Easter', or the like does not constitute a violation of the Act." Mmm, secularized.
- If the place being advertised isn't wheelchair-accessible, you can't say "no wheelchairs", for the same reason you can't say, "no Irish". However, "Advertisements containing descriptions of accessibility features are lawful." Way to split the baby.
- Sexual orientation isn't federally protected, but Democrats in Washington State appear on the verge of finally getting it on the list. For the moment, though, it appears to be kosher to advertise for "preferably straight".
- My favorite bit, and the reason I wrote this up at all:
Use of the term "master bedroom" does not constitute a violation of either the sex discrimination provisions or the race discrimination provisions.
Emphasis in original.
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