Fair Housing Program

Realtor showing a family a house 

Fair Housing for Homebuyers and Sellers

It is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, including against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities. 

Your Realtor® and Equal Opportunity Housing

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. A variety of other federal civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibit discrimination in housing and community development programs and activities. Virginia also has its own Fair Housing Act (§36-96.1 et. seq.) that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, or familial status.

Realtors® also pledge to conduct business in keeping with the Code of Ethics. Article 10 of the Code of Ethics imposes obligations upon Realtors® and is also a firm statement of support for equal opportunity in housing.

Watch this video to learn about the law and how it makes the real estate industry stronger:

Know Your Rights

The home seller, the home seeker, and the real estate professional all have rights and responsibilities under the law.

For the Home Seller:

As a home seller or landlord you have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. You cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as your agent to convey for you any limitations in the sale or rental because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate.

For the Home Seeker: 

You have the right to expect that housing will be available to you without discrimination or other limitations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

This includes the right to expect:

  • Housing in your price range made available to you without discrimination
  • Equal professional service
  • The opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices
  • No discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing
  • No discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing
  • Reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities
    • The Fair Housing Act requires property owners and managers to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Assistance animals — such as guide dogs for the blind and emotional support animals for those suffering from PTSD or depression — are legitimate needs for people with disabilities. If a tenant requests permission for an assistance animal, the landlord must entertain this request to avoid violating state and federal fair housing laws. Sometimes, the disability-related need for an assistance animal is not readily apparent or known to the landlord. In those cases, Virginia law allows the landlord to evaluate the requester’s disability-related need for the animal (Va. Code § 36-96.3:1(B)). NVAR offers several forms to assist members as they navigate the process. Members with questions can contact the NVAR Legal Hotline.

  • Non-discriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of a dwelling
  • To be free from harassment or intimidation for exercising your fair housing rights

For the Real Estate Professional:

Agents in a real estate transaction are prohibited by law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. A request from the home seller or landlord to act in a discriminatory manner in the sale, lease or rental cannot legally be fulfilled by the real estate professional.

If You Suspect Discrimination


NVAR Professional Services

File a complaint through NVAR Professional Services: NVAR will accept complaints alleging violations of the Code of Ethics of discriminatory treatment in the availability, purchase or rental of housing.

Learn More.

HUD Logo


File a complaint through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) investigates complaints, which may be one or both of the following types: Discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (including housing that is privately owned and operated); Discrimination and other civil rights violations in housing and community development programs, including those funded by HUD.

Learn More.

Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations logo


If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination, you may file a complaint by downloading the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form. 

Learn More.

realtor professionalism icon

Why Use a Realtor®?

The term Realtor® identifies a licensed professional in real estate who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®.

Not all licensed real estate brokers and salespersons are members of the national association, and only those who are may identify themselves as Realtors®. They conduct their business and activities in accordance with a strict Code of Ethics.

Learn More.