Prairie State Legal Services

Renter's Handbook

Discrimination and Housing

Discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin or ancestry in the sale and rental of housing is PROHIBITED by Federal and Illinois state law. No landlord can refuse to rent to a person based on these characteristics. They are not relevant to your status as a tenant.

If you or anyone you know is having problems with regard to discrimination, contact officials on the federal, state and local levels. On the federal level, you can call the Department of Housing and Urban Development toll free at 800/424-8590. Complaints which are filed are investigated. If the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development decides to proceed with the case, it will be forwarded to local officials. On the state level, complaints should be directed to the Department of Human Rights at 217/785-5100 or 312/917-6200. On the local level, there may be a Human Rights Department or a Fair Housing Commission in your city. Check the "Important Numbers" section of this handbook or call city hall. If none of these agencies can solve your problem, you may be able to file suit in the U.S. District Court.

It is also illegal under state law for a landlord to refuse to rent to you because of marital status, physical or mental handicap, unfavorable discharge from military service or because you have children under 14 years of age. If you are denied an apartment or house because of any of these reasons, contact the Department of Human Rights at the number above or the Human Rights Department in your city.

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