The Federal Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act) offers protection from housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability when buyers or renters are looking for housing services. Most states also have their own Fair Housing Act in place.

The Fair Housing Act in Texas was designed to protect individuals from discriminatory housing practices during the sale or rental of a property. It is essential to be aware of the requirements of the Fair Housing Act to ensure compliance and protect everyone involved with your rental property from potential violations.

In this blog post, we will look at how these measures ensure individuals have access to fair and safe housing opportunities in Texas!

What Is the Fair Housing Act?

The Federal Fair Housing Act is a federal law that protects people from housing discrimination when renting, buying, or financing a home. It was created to help protect individuals and families from the effects of discriminatory housing practices.

The act states that it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. This includes offering different housing services, refusing to rent or sell housing, and setting different terms and conditions for sale or rental on the basis of these characteristics.

What the Texas Fair Housing Act Covers

Also known as Chapter 301 of the Government Code, this act is a law protecting people from housing discrimination because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status when they are trying to rent or buy real estate in the state of Texas.

A landlord looking at a lease agreement with a family

Fair Housing Based on Familial Status

The act prohibits housing discrimination based on familial status, meaning that a landlord cannot refuse to accept an applicant for your rental because they have children or are expecting a baby.

Fair Housing for People with a Physical or Mental Disability

The act also prohibits housing discrimination based on a physical or mental disability, meaning that housing providers must make reasonable modifications for tenants with disabilities and allow them the same access to rental properties as other tenants. They must instead look at the individual's qualifications and ability to pay rent, just as they would with any other tenant.

What the Fair Housing Act in Texas Doesn't Cover

This can be an important factor to consider when it comes to buying or renting a home. For example, the Fair Housing Act does not cover marital status, income source, sexual orientation, certain criminal convictions, drug or illegal substance addiction, and the threat of harm. It is essential to understand these exclusions when purchasing or leasing a house or unit.

Furthermore, knowing what is not covered by the Fair Housing Act can help you avoid potential housing discrimination and ensure that everyone is treated fairly. It’s important to be aware of local laws and regulations related to fair housing, security deposits, and evictions in order to stay up-to-date with current statutes.

Hands exchanging documents across a desk

Being informed on these matters can make all the difference in a successful and safe real estate transaction that allows buyers or renters to exercise their fair housing right.

Texas Fair Housing Law Exemptions

The Fair Housing Act applies to the sale and rental of all housing in Texas, with certain exemptions. These exemptions include single-family home sales without a broker or agent, owner-occupied multifamily homes with four or fewer units, religious groups and private organizations, appraisals, housing for older people, and maximum occupancies.

Certain Single-Family Home Sales

For single-family home sales that do not involve a real estate broker or agent, these transactions are exempt from the requirements of the act. This includes selling a home directly to an individual buyer without any assistance from a real estate licensee.

Owner-Occupied Buildings: Multifamily Homes with Four or Fewer Units

Multifamily, owner-occupied housing with four or fewer units is also exempt from provisions of the act when they are rented or sold by their owners. This exemption does not extend to properties owned by corporations or other entities.

Religious Groups and Private Clubs

Religious groups and private clubs are exempt from certain fair housing provisions when they rent or sell dwellings that are either related to or used in connection with their activities, as long as such dwellings contain no more than four units.

Housing for Older People

The fair housing act also includes an exemption for housing designed and operated exclusively for persons 62 years of age or older, provided that it meets certain criteria set forth in the law. This exemption applies to both rental and sales transactions.

An older man in a red striped shirt lifting a baby into the air


Appraisals for the purpose of obtaining financing for a dwelling do not constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Appraisers must still comply with all applicable laws and regulations regarding appraisals, including any state-specific requirements.

Maximum Occupancies

Finally, fair housing laws in Texas also has an exemption for maximum occupancies. Landlords can set occupancy limits that are reasonable and consistent with local health and safety standards, as long as these limits are applied equally to all tenants without regard to race or other protected characteristics.

However, this exemption does not apply if the landlord sets occupancy limits that would have a discriminatory effect or disproportionately impact certain groups of people based on their race or another protected status.

Fair Housing: Bottom Line

It is important for landlords and tenants alike to be familiar with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act in Texas in order to avoid discriminatory housing practives and potential violations of the law.

If you have questions about Texas landlord-tenant law, fair housing, or are looking for help managing your rental property, contact McCourt Real Estate & Property Management! We are here to take care of all of your rental property needs.

Disclaimer: Please do not use this blog post as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in Texas. Laws change frequently, and this post may not be updated at the time that you read it. Please contact us if you have any questions about Texas laws or anything else regarding your property management needs.