A fair housing organization in Boston has brought a lawsuit that accuses several local real estate companies of illegal discrimination in advertising on their Web sites.

The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston said advertisements that used such wording as “professionals only,” “no undergrads please!” and “no security deposit required with good credit and stable employment” violated federal and state laws that protect people against discrimination in housing, according to news reports.

Federal laws prohibit discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, family status, or national origin. Housing-related advertising that discriminates against prospective renters or home buyers on the basis of those protected classes would be illegal.

The lawsuit is eye-catching because its allegations of housing discrimination involve online, rather than newsprint rental advertisements. Newspapers generally screen advertisements for potential problems while a lawsuit over Web site advertisements may be the first of its kind.

The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston is a private nonprofit organization that combats housing discrimination in the greater Boston area.

Housing segregation remains a pressing problem in Metro Boston, according to researchers who presented studies on the subject at a conference in January. Overt discrimination in real estate markets is one of various theories about why such segregation exists, according to a statement issued by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.

“We know that the problem is more than money,” David J. Harris, director of the Boston fair housing organization and a co-author of one of the studies, said at the time. “Realtors, lenders, cities and towns, community representatives, and the state Department of Community and Housing Development must all play a part to combat Metro Boston’s persistent racial segregation.”


Send a Letter to the Editor for publication.
Send a comment or news tip to our newsroom.
Please include the headline of the story.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription