House Key (150)

Investigations and Enforcement

"Everyone Deserves a Fair Chance"

What is the Fair Housing Law?

In the City of Boston, it is illegal to discriminate in the rental or sale of housing based on the following protected classes:

  • Race
  • Ancestry
  • Gender Identity
  • Sex
  • Color
  • Military Status
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Disability/Handicap
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • National Origin
  • Source of Income (Public Assistance, Including Section 8)
  • Familial Status (including presence of children)


The Boston Fair Housing Commission investigates housing discrimination complaints. Trained investigators analyze information gathered from interviews and records to determine whether there is "probable cause" (sufficient evidence to believe) to conclude that housing discrimination occured.

When a discrimination complaint results in a Probable Cause finding that cannot be resolved through conciliation, the Boston Fair Housing Commission may hold a public hearing, award damages and assess fines, and order and monitor actions to prevent further discrimination. The Commission reviews compliance with settlement agreements and may, upon a finding of non-compliance, take enforcement action.

Prohibited Practices

Housing Discrimination May Include:
  • You are told the landlord does not accept rental assistance such as Section 8 vouchers.

  • You make an appointment to look at a home or unit for sale but when you get there you're told the property has been sold. You later see the property is still on the market.

  • You are told that an apartment has been rented but you later see that it has been listed again.

  • You are told a higher selling price or rent than what was advertised or what you heard others being told.

  • You are told property cannot be rented to families because of the presence of lead paint.

  • You are directed to or away from neighborhoods based on race, national origin, religion, or disability.

  • You are given terms of a rental or sale which are different from those given to other persons, such as being assessed different fees.

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If the discrimination occured outside of Boston, you may contact the following organizations for assistance.

External Organizations



  • FHE Marketing Opportunity (Due date Extended to March 5, 2015 4 PM)

    FHE seeks expressions of Interest (EOI) for developing a communications and marketing campaign. The campaign will focus on raising awareness of the effects of lead exposure on children and making the public aware that housing discrimination against families due to the presence of lead is illegal.

    EOI (Full)

  • City Hosted Summit on Lead Paint Danger

    The summit brought together city, academic, private, and public stakeholders to develop an action plan for increasing awareness that lead is still a problem in Boston.

    Read News Article

  • Fair Housing Poster Contest

    Watch as the Mayor and our April 2014 Fair Housing Art Contest winners talk about diversity and housing.

    Watch Here

  • Panel Discussion on Lead Paint

    On behalf of the Office of Fair Housing and Equity (FHE), we would like to invite to you to the Urban League Lead Paint and Housing Discrimination Panel Discussion on February 5th from 6pm to 7:45pm. This event will be taking place at the Grove Hall Library in the Jazz Lounge

    Panel Discussion Information

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