OpinionIndustry News

Web sites should police real estate advertising

Perspective: Cost no excuse for noncompliance with fair housing laws

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Most newspaper publishers won't accept advertisements for rental or for-sale housing that they've deemed likely to be discriminating toward certain classes of people. Yet Web sites that publish such advertisements irresponsibly have failed to adopt similarly policies and practices. These Web sites should be held to the same legal requirements as their print competitors. The Fair Housing Act and the Web sites' professional and moral obligations to their readers dictate no less than full compliance. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency that enforces the Fair Housing Act, is investigating real estate advertising on Web sites and Web sites' policies and practices regarding fair housing compliance. HUD should use every means within its authority to enforce the law, which protects certain classes of people from discrimination when they buy or rent housing. Federal laws typically hold authors and advertisers, not publishers responsible for the legalit...