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Fair Housing in Oregon: Questions & Answers

Q. Since my property is not government owned or operated housing, am I required to comply with state and federal housing laws and local ordinances?

A. Yes. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the amendments prohibit discrimination in any aspect relating to the sale, rental, finance, advertisement, and brokerage of housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and physical and mental disability. Oregon law prohibits discrimination against individuals because of their marital status.
Oregon law covers any real property for sale, rent, or lease. Federal law covers any real property, and federally owned or financed housing.
Q. Do I have the right to select the tenant I want?

A. The refusal to rent cannot be based on a protected class. The protected classes include race/color, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, marital status, national origin, and familial status. All applicants must be given the same rental requirements and judged by the same standards.
Q. Can I refuse to rent to unmarried couples?

A. No, with one exception. Oregon law permits an owner to refuse to rent to unmarried, unrelated persons of the opposite sex if it would result in common use of bath or bedroom facilities.
Q. What information can I legally require concerning income of the applicants?

A. Proof of income can be required of interested applicants. You can require that the income be of such an amount that it will allow the renter to meet rent obligations. Unmarried and married couples must meet the same minimum income requirements and be held to the same standard. 
Q. Do I have to rent to a blind person with a guide dog?

A. You cannot refuse to rent because of the inclusion of an assistance animal.
Q. Can I refuse to rent to an applicant in a wheelchair?

A. Refusal to rent to a disabled person because of an impairment is unlawful. You must also permit reasonable modifications of the premises if done at the expense of the resident. The landlord may condition permission for a modification on the resident agreeing to restore the premises to the condition that existed before the modification.
Q. Can I refuse to rent to families with children?

A. No. The Fair Housing Amendments of 1988 added familial status as a protected class. Oregon law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of familial status.
Familial status is defined as "one or more individuals who are not yet 18 years old, living with a parent or custodian with the written permission of such parent or other person." It is unlawful to discriminate against families because they have children. It is not unlawful to impose nondiscriminatory occupancy limits such as the number of persons per bedroom.
Q. Are there exceptions to the requirement of renting to families?

A. Yes. There are exceptions for bona fide senior housing where the project is publicly funded for seniors; all persons are 62 or older, or at least 80 percent of the households are headed by someone 55 or older and there are significant facilities or services for older persons.
Q. Can I have rules and guidelines that regulate the conduct of tenants´ children?

A. Yes. You can have rules that reasonably regulate the conduct of all residents regardless of age.
Q. The owner of the property has instructed me not to rent or show the property to protected classes; is this a lawful procedure?

A. No. You must inform the client or employer that it is unlawful, and you cannot agree to this condition. You are as liable as your client or employer.
Q. What are the consequences for failure to comply with the law?

A. There are penalties and fines for those found guilty of violating the fair housing laws. When the Civil Rights Division finds substantial evidence of a violation of fair housing laws, the agency will issue Formal Charges.  If you fail to comply with the law, you may be faced with the costs of defending a suit and the payment of penalties. 

Nothing on this website is intended as legal advice.  Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them, and not intended to apply to any other situations.  This communication is not an agency order.  If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.  We attempt to update the information on this website as soon as practicable following changes or developments in the laws and rules affecting Oregon employers, but we make no warranties or representations, express or implied, about whether the information provided is current.  We urge you to check the applicable statutes and administrative rules yourself and to consult with legal counsel prior to taking action that may invoke employee rights or employer responsibilities or omitting to act when required by law to act.