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Section 8 and Fair Housing

Q. Is it a violation to refuse to rent to tenants who have Section 8 vouchers or other government vouchers?
A. 

Section 8 is a voluntary, federal rental assistance program.  Like most states, Maryland law does not expressly prohibit landlords from refusing to rent on the basis of an applicant’s lawful source of income.  Nothing in state law precludes a landlord from refusing to lease a unit to a tenant on the basis of the fact that he or she is assisted by the Section 8 program.  You are advised, however, that a number of local jurisdictions, such as Howard County and Montgomery County, do prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of source of income.  You should consult local law in the appropriate jurisdiction.

Also, an alternative prohibition against refusal to rent to certificate and voucher holders arises from the Fair Housing Act. That act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, national origin, sex and the presence of children in the family. If a landlord were to refuse to rent to certificate and voucher holders as a subterfuge for refusing to rent to members of one of those protected classes, that refusal would violate the Fair Housing Act.  Even if the landlord's refusal were not intentionally designed to keep protected class members out of his buildings, but it had that effect, such refusal also may violate the Fair Housing Act if there were no business necessity for the policy.

posted @ Monday, October 03, 2011 3:23 PM