Housing Discrimination is Against the Law

What is Housing Discrimination?

The Montana Human Rights Act states it is unlawful to make decisions about housing because of a person’s:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Disability (including the need for service animals and reasonable accommodations)
  • Familial status (the presence of children under the age of 18).

What Type of Housing Is Covered?

Montana and federal fair housing laws cover most types of housing. The law exempts owner-occupied sleeping rooms in a private residence, provided the owner rents no more than 3 rooms within the residence.

Exception for Housing for Older Persons

Housing for older persons is exempt from the familial status and age provisions of Montana fair housing law if the units:

  • Are occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older, or
  • At least one person who is 55 or older resides in 80% of the occupied units
  • Owners publish and adhere to written policies and procedures that demonstrate the housing is intended and operated for persons 55 and older.

If Based on a Protected Class, the Following Actions Are Prohibited

  • Printing, or publishing any advertisement or statement that indicates a limitation or preference in the area of housing
  • Refuse to rent or sell housing or otherwise deny entry into a neighborhood
  • Set different terms, conditions, facilities, services or privileges for sale or rental of a housing unit
  • Ask about a buyer’s or renter’s protected class
  • Represent that available housing is not available for inspection, sale or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent
  • Deny reasonable accommodations, at their expense, to persons with disabilities, in sales, rental and terms and conditions
  • Refuse to make or purchase a mortgage loan, or fail to provide information regarding loans
  • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points or fees
  • Discriminate in appraising property
It is illegal for anyone to retaliate against an individual who has filed a housing discrimination complaint, or participated in an investigation of a housing discrimination complaint.

 What Housing Providers Can Do To Prevent Discrimination

  • Develop and post a written anti-discrimination policy and discipline those who engage in discriminatory behavior
  • Provide training for all managers and employees in fair housing law
  • Take immediate corrective action upon determining that discrimination has occurred
  • Apply standards equally to all tenants

What Renters and Buyers Can Do

  • Report incidents of discrimination to the salesperson or manager
  • If complaints are not resolved, report the discrimination to the broker or owner
  • Contact the Human Rights Bureau

Additional Resources

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Montana Department of Labor & Industry Board of Realty Regulation

Montana Department of Commerce Housing Division