State and federal fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on national origin and religion. In our eight-county service area, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, and Ypsilanti all have “policies related to diversity, welcoming and immigration.”
For a complete list of all the people protected from discrimination, click here.*
Call the Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan at 877-979-FAIR if you think you have been the victim of housing discrimination because you are an immigrant or a refugee, because of where you are from, or because of your religious faith.
The fair housing laws protect you regardless of your immigration status.
It is illegal for a landlord to treat you differently because of your immigration status, national origin, or religion. That means people involved in renting homes cannot:
- refuse to rent to you because you are an immigrant or refugee or because of your religious faith;
- refuse to rent to you because you are not from the United States;
- charge you more rent or a higher security deposit because of where you are from, your immigration status, or because of your religious faith;
- require you to get a co-signer because you are an immigrant, refugee or because of your religion;
- tell you not to cook food you like because of the smell;
- refuse to rent to you because you or some of your family members do not speak English;
- tell you that you must speak English when outside of your apartment;
- force you to choose an apartment near other people who are from the same country, speak the same language as you, or are of the same religion;
- enforce rules against you or your family because you are an immigrant or refugee or because of your religion but not enforce those rules against anyone else.
It is illegal for a landlord to ask you to identify your religion.
It is illegal for a landlord to ask you questions about your immigration status because of how you look, talk or dress.
Some landlords, owners, real estate agents, etc., might ask if you are in the country legally, ask to see your green card or visa, or ask for your social security number. If you think that you are being asked about your immigration status because of where you are from, call the Fair Housing Center.
State and federal fair housing laws continue to protect you once you are living in your home or apartment. A landlord, owner, real estate agent or anyone else cannot:
- ask you to remove your head scarf, hijab, burka, keffiyeh, kippah, other religious clothing, or other religious symbol;
- evict you because of your religion, your immigration status, or your refugee status;
- threaten or harass you because of your religion, your immigration status, or your refugee status.
Harassment or threats include:
- Threatening to report you to the police or immigration authorities because of your immigration status;
- Saying you will be deported;
- Telling you to go back to your own country;
- Painting graffiti or writing on your home, including using slurs or threats to harm you or your family if you do not move out;
- Yelling racial, ethnic, or religious slurs at you and your family;
- Blocking access to your home, your belongings, or property amenities (like a swimming pool or laundry area)
YOU ARE ALSO PROTECTED IF YOU ARE BUYING A HOME OR ATTEMPTING TO GET A MORTGAGE. Call the Fair Housing Center if you believe you are being prevented from buying a home or getting a loan because of your immigration status, refugee status, or your religion.
Immigration Status and Housing Discrimination Frequently Asked Questions – U.S. Housing and Urban Development, 2012
Immigration Status Flyer – U.S. Housing and Urban Development, 2012
*There are some exemptions from the fair housing laws. Please call the Fair Housing Center even if you think your landlord may be exempt from the law.
Thank you to the Connecticut Fair Housing Center for much of this language.