Advertise without Discriminating | General Advertising Guidelines | Selective Advertising | Use of Fair Housing Posters | Publishers Notice | Advertising Regulations
Among housing providers, it's common knowledge that putting up a sign in front of an apartment building that says "no children" or "adults only" would be discriminating against families with children. Housing providers also need to be careful not to use ads that say, "perfect house for couple," or "Christian family preferred." As a general rule, ads should not contain words that express a preference based on a protected class.
A limited exception applies to renting out rooms. For example, if you are a woman and you have rooms to rent in your house, your ad for roommates may prefer females and can may exclude males. But, your ad may not prefer white females over black females, nor may it prefer non-disabled females over disabled females. This limited exception applies only to sex (gender) and only in cases where the owner lives in the house and wants to rent rooms in a shared living space.
Generally, ads should describe the property and not the tenant. If the unit is close to a park, the ad could say, "Two bedroom, two bath unit with lots of closet space, close to a park and public transportation, available immediately." The ad describes some of the unit's features and amenities, but says nothing about prospective tenants.
In addition, human models used in sales or rental ads and in brochures and other advertising material should reflect the community's diversity. For example, if a community is 20% Asian, 40% black and 40% white, ads and brochures should not contain only white (or only black, or only Asian) models. To do so may invite a housing complaint. Use models, ads and brochures that reflect the increasing diversity of our population.
Finally, the Fair Housing Logo should appear in all advertisements. Using the logo creates a presumption that you're trying to follow the fair housing law.
Download logo graphics for printing.
The following information is to assist all advertising media, advertising agencies, and all other persons who use advertising to make, print, or publish (or cause to be made, printed or published) advertisements with respect to the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings in compliance with the requirements of the Virginia Fair Housing Law. These regulations also describe the matters the Board will review in evaluating compliance with the Fair Housing Law in connection with complaints alleging discriminatory advertising.
This section also provides criteria for use by advertising media in determining whether to accept and publish advertising regarding sales or rental transactions. These criteria may be considered in making determinations as to whether there is reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred, or is about to occur.
In the investigation of complaints, the Board may consider the implementation of fair housing policies and practices provided in this section as evidence of compliance with the prohibitions against discrimination in advertising under the fair housing law.
1. Use of equal housing opportunity logotype, statement, or slogan.All advertising of residential real estate for sale, rent, or financing should contain an equal housing opportunity logotype, statement, or slogan as a means of educating the home-seeking public that the property is available to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, elderliness, or national origin. The choice of logotype, statement, or slogan will depend on the type of media used (visual or auditory) and, in space advertising, on the size of the advertisement.
2. Use of human models.Human models in photographs, drawings, or other graphic techniques may not be used to indicate exclusiveness because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, elderliness, or national origin. If models are used in display advertising campaigns, the models should be clearly definable as reasonably representing majority and minority groups in the metropolitan area, both sexes and, when appropriate, families with children. Models, if used, should portray persons in an equal social setting and indicate to the general public that the housing is open to all without regard to race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, elderliness, or national origin, and is not for the exclusive use of one such group. Human models include any depiction of a human being, paid or unpaid, resident or nonresident.
3. Coverage of local laws.Where the equal housing opportunity statement is used, the advertisement may also include a statement regarding the coverage of any local fair housing or human rights ordinance prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of dwellings.
4. Notification of fair housing policy. The following groups should be notified of the firm's fair housing policy: a. Employees. All publishers of advertisements, advertising agencies, and firms engaged in the sale, rental, or financing of real estate should provide a printed copy of their nondiscrimination policy to each employee and officer. b. Clients. All publishers of advertisements and advertising agencies should post a copy of their nondiscrimination policy in a conspicuous location wherever persons place advertising, and should have copies available for all firms and persons using their advertising services.
The selective use of advertising media or content when used exclusively with respect to various housing developments or sites can lead to discriminatory results and may indicate a violation of the fair housing law. For example, the use of English-language media alone, or the exclusive use of media catering to the majority population in an area, when there are also available non-English language or other minority media in such area, may have a discriminatory impact. Similarly, the selective use of human models in advertisements may have a discriminatory impact. The following are examples of the selective use of advertisements that may be discriminatory: Selective geographic advertisementsSuch selective use may involve the strategic placement of billboards; brochure advertisements distributed within a limited geographic area by hand or in the mail; advertising in particular geographic coverage editions of major metropolitan newspapers or in newspapers of limited circulation which are mainly advertising vehicles for reaching a particular segment of the community; or displays or announcements available only in selected sales offices.
All persons subject to Section 36-96.3 of the Code of Virginia (Virginia Fair Housing Law, Unlawful Discriminatory Housing Practices)--except to the extent specified in 18VAC135-50-100.E.2--shall post and maintain an approved fair housing poster as follows: a. With respect to a single-family dwelling (not being offered for sale or rental in conjunction with the sale or rental of other dwellings) offered for sale or rental through a real estate broker, agent, salesman, or person in the business of selling or renting dwellings, such person shall post and maintain a fair housing poster at any place of business where the dwelling is offered for sale or rental.b. With respect to all other dwellings covered by the law: (i) a fair housing poster shall be posted and maintained at any place of business where the dwelling is offered for sale or rental, and (ii) a fair housing poster shall be posted and maintained at the dwelling (except that with respect to a single-family dwelling being offered for sale or rental in conjunction with the sale or rental of other dwellings, the fair housing poster may be posted and maintained at the model dwellings or at a conspicuous location instead of at each of the individual dwellings).c. With respect to those dwellings to which 18VAC135-50-100.E.2 applies, the fair housing poster must be posted at the beginning of construction and maintained throughout the period of construction and sale or rental.
All fair housing posters must be prominently displayed so as to be readily apparent to all persons seeking housing accommodations or seeking to engage in residential real estate-related transactions or brokerage services.
All persons subject to this section may obtain fair housing posters from:Virginia Fair Housing OfficeDepartment of Professional and Occupational Regulation9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400Richmond, VA 23233(804) 367-8530 or 1-888-551-FAIR (3247)TDD: Virginia Relay 7-1-1FairHousing@dpor.virginia.gov
A failure to display the fair housing poster as required by this section shall be deemed prima facie evidence of a discriminatory housing practice.
All publishers shall publish, at the beginning of the real estate advertising section, a publishers notice. The notice should include the following or similar language:
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of Virginia's and HUD's equal opportunity housing policies. Virginia's fair housing law makes it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status or handicap.
This newspaper will not knowingly accept advertising for real estate that violates the fair housing law. Our readers are hereby informed that all dwellings advertised in this newspaper are available on an equal opportunity basis. For more information about Virginia's Fair Housing Law or to file a fair housing complaint, call the Virginia Fair Housing Office at (804) 367-8530. Toll-free call (888) 551-3247. For TDD users, please call the Virginia Relay by dialing 7-1-1.
please contact us in writing or via telephone and we will work with you to make the information available.