Under the Fair Housing Act and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, advertisements to rent or sell housing must not discriminate or state a preference even if the housing is exempt from fair housing laws. Generally, advertisements must not state a words that refer or relate to a particular class to describe the housing unit, the apartment complex, the neighborhood, other tenants living in the apartment complex, or the landlord. For example, landlords and property managers should not include references to age, sex, race, religion, or disability. An ad should never contain a statement such “adults only” or “no kids” because it would be discriminating against families.
There are many nuances to advertisements for rental housing that landlords and property managers that could be held to be violations of fair housing laws. For example, an ad should not state that a landlord or property manager is looking for a “Christian tenant,” or a “mature couple.”
In addition to a landlord or property manager being liable to a fair housing violation, the media that publishes the ad could also be held liable.