Illegal Housing Discrimination
If you are a renter or trying to rent, it is illegal for a landlord to treat you differently (discriminate) based on:
- Your sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation;
- Your family status—like having children, being pregnant, or being married or single;
- Your race, religion, color, or national origin;
- Where you get the money to pay your rent—like Section 8 vouchers or other public assistance programs; or
- A physical or mental disability, or the need for a reasonable accommodation—like a wheelchair ramp or a service animal.
Landlords are discriminating illegally if, for example they:
- Refuse to rent to you because you are Mexican, Native American, a single parent, transgender, etc.
- Have different rules for you because you have children.
- Treat you differently than other renters, charge you more, or evict you because you, or someone you live with, has a disability.
- Charge you extra rent because you:
- Are from a different country,
- Speak a language other than English,
- Have children, or
- Need a service animal because of your disability.
If you rent a room in your landlord’s home and you share space with your landlord, your landlord can discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or whether you have children under 18.
A landlord can also discriminate against you (treat you differently than other renters) based on things that aren't protected by the law. For example, a landlord could treat you differently because of the vehicle you drive, your hobbies, your interests, the pets you have (if they aren't assistance animals), or another reason not protected by the law.
No. Oregon law makes it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a renter because of their source of income, like Section 8 or disability benefits.
Landlords must not turn you away, charge you higher rent, or limit the type of housing you can rent because:
- You want to pay with housing vouchers, like Section 8;
- You get public assistance to pay your rent, or
- You are applying for rental assistance.
Yes. Landlords can refuse to rent to you if:
- You do not earn your income legally,
- Your income is from a particular type of job, or
- You do not have enough income to cover your rent.
Important! Landlords must count government benefits as part of your income, including disability benefits, Section 8, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
No. It is also against the law for landlords to:
- Evict you,
- Limit you to one person per bedroom, or
- Treat you differently because you are pregnant or have children under 18 living with you.
Exception for senior housing: A landlord can restrict an apartment complex or a manufactured home park to people over the age of 55. A landlord cannot use this exception for a single-family home.
Landlords cannot have different rules for children, such as no kids playing in the street.
- Landlords can require that young children at a pool be supervised. But they cannot require a parent or guardian do the supervising.
- If you rent a space in the landlord’s home, the landlord can say “no children allowed.”
No. Landlords must not discriminate against you because you were a victim or survivor of:
- Domestic violence,
- Dating violence,
- Stalking, or
- Sexual assault.
A landlord would be discriminating if they were to do any of the following things because you were a victim of one of the types of violence listed above:
- Deny your application,
- Have more restrictive rules or standards for you,
- Evict you,
- Raise your rent, or
- Refuse to renew your lease.
It is also illegal for the landlord to discriminate against you because:
- Something related to the violence caused a violation of your rental agreement,
- The police responded to the violence at your rental unit, or
- The violence caused damage to your rental unit.
Read more about housing rights for survivors of violence.
Landlords cannot discriminate against you because you are under 18. If you're under 18, the law says you can sign your own rental agreement and be responsible for paying your rent and utilities if you are:
- An emancipated minor (the court has declared you an adult),
- At least 16 years old,
- Under 16, if you are the parent of a child who will be living with you, or
- Under 16, if you are pregnant with a child who will live with you.
The only time a landlord can restrict renters because of their age is for senior housing or if the renter is going to be living in the same house as the landlord.
Landlords can refuse to rent to people because of some convictions, but they cannot have a policy that says they won’t rent to anyone with a criminal conviction. They can only consider your convictions for:
- Crimes that are still against Oregon law;
- Some drug crimes (but not marijuana possession);
- Murder, rape, assault, or other crimes that involve violence against a person;
- Sex offenses;
- Financial fraud; or
- Other crimes that would impact your renting. (For example: identity theft, burglary, arson).
If a landlord won’t rent to you because of a criminal conviction, your landlord must give you a chance to fight (appeal) the decision. You will need to explain:
- What specific crime you were convicted of,
- How many crimes you were convicted of,
- How long ago you were convicted, or
- How old you were at the time.
It is also helpful to include:
- Letters from a parole officer, counselor, pastor, or other spiritual advisor that talk about your progress.
- Information about recovery from drug or alcohol abuse
- Information about mental health treatment that shows that you are in a different place than when you were convicted.
Visit our Referral Database to look for legal help with clearing your record.
Landlords cannot refuse to rent to you just because you have an arrest record. A landlord can only consider an arrest if:
- The case has not been decided yet,
- You are on diversion, conditional discharge, or deferral of judgment, or
- You were convicted.
Landlords may not consider arrests or convictions related to marijuana if what you did is not against the law now, such as possessing less than one ounce of marijuana.
A landlord also cannot discriminate against you if:
- You have a medical marijuana card, or
- You are a medical marijuana patient.
Your landlord is allowed to say that you can’t grow, possess, or use marijuana or cannabis in your rental—even though marijuana is not illegal under Oregon law. If the landlord has a no smoking policy, that includes smoking marijuana, even medical marijuana.
There are three ways that you can make a legal claim against your landlord for discrimination:
- Find a lawyer to file a lawsuit for you, or file a lawsuit on your own
- File a complaint with Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). For more information, call them at (971) 673-0764 or visit Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries website.
- File a complaint with the United States Bureau of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For more information, call HUD at (800) 877-0246. HUD also has an online complaint process on their website.
If you aren't sure which option is right for you, get legal help.
Don’t wait too long before taking action! If you decide to file a complaint, you must make your complaint no later than one year after the discrimination happened. If you decide to file a lawsuit, you must start the case no later than two years after the discrimination happened.
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