Fair housing. It's the law.
Equal Housing Opportunity
Property owners and managers are subject to the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits "any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or intention to make such preference, limitation or discrimination."
Property Owner's & Manager's Responsibilities
As a property owner or manager you have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the rental of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. You cannot instruct your agent to convey on your behalf any limitations in the rental because your agent is bound by law not to discriminate. Agents in a rental transaction are prohibited by law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. They are prohibited from complying with a request from the property owner or manager to act in a discriminatory manner in the lease or rental. Moreover, a property owner or manager cannot establish discriminatory terms or conditions in the purchase or rental, deny that housing is available, or advertise that the property is available only to persons of a certain race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national original.
As someone seeking to rent an apartment, home or condo, the renter has the right to expect that housing will be available to them without discrimination or other limitations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. This includes the right to expect 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 pricing or financing of housing, reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities, and to be free from harassment or intimidation for exercising their fair housing rights.
Civil Rights Act of 1866
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits all racial discrimination in the sale or rental of property.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act declares a national policy of fair housing throughout the United States. The law makes illegal any discrimination in the sale, lease or rental of housing, or making housing otherwise unavailable, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in places of public accommodations and commercial facilities.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act makes discrimination unlawful with respect to any aspect of a credit application on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age or because all or part of the applicant's income derives from any public assistance program.
State and Local Laws
State and local laws often provide broader coverage and prohibit discrimination based on additional classes not covered by federal law. Please report housing discrimination to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Complaints alleging discrimination in housing may be filed with the nearest office of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), or by calling HUD's toll free numbers, 1-800-669-9777 (voice), or 1-800-543-8294 (TDD). Contact HUD on the internet here.
The Fair Housing Act provides additional protections, and limited exceptions, that are explained in publications from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") and the Department of Justice.
HUD has issued guidance on advertising, including for roommates.
State and local laws often prohibit discrimination based on other factors (e.g. sexual orientation, age, marital status, and source of income).