Renting as a Member of the LGBTQIA+ Community

Updated: January 15, 2024

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As of 2021, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing discrimination based on sex, gender or sexual orientation. In the same year, sex-based discrimination was the third-most frequent basis of housing discrimination, with 2,309 recorded cases and comprising 7.4% of all housing discrimination complaints.

Housing discrimination — including those against the LGBTQIA+ community — often begins during the home search, leading to denials, higher rates or evictions. It also occurs in various housing transactions, including rentals. You can protect yourself against sex-based housing discrimination by understanding the law and your housing rights, recognizing forms of discrimination, and knowing what actions to take when confronted with such issues.

LGBTQIA+ Housing Discrimination


Discrimination in housing can manifest in various ways, from different treatments in house-seeking, selling and pricing to getting mortgage lending. Despite being illegal, many members of the LGBTQIA+ community still encounter housing discrimination.

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According to a 2021 Center for American Progress study, housing discrimination is a consistent problem for the LGBTQIA+ community, with 29% of LGBTQIA+ respondents, including 41% of LGBTQIA+ respondents of color and 46% of transgender respondents, reporting housing discrimination due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

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The report also stated that 15% of LGBTQIA+ respondents reported being prevented or discouraged from renting or buying a home, and 12% were denied necessary maintenance or upkeep services for a home or apartment.

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According to the same survey, 12% were prevented or discouraged from securing a loan to rent or purchase a home, and 12% faced physical, verbal or sexual harassment when interacting with a landlord.

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Another study conducted in 2018, involving 6,490 unique property owners across 94 U.S. cities, revealed that same-sex male couples — particularly non-White couples — were less likely to receive active responses to their housing inquiries than heterosexual couples.

Housing Rights and Legal Protections as an LGBTQIA+ Renter

Federal laws protect LGBTQIA+ housing rights, and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal. Understanding these renters’ rights, responsibilities and legal protections can help you defend your housing rights.

National Laws Protecting LGBTQIA+ Renters

In June 2020, the Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton Cty. confirmed that Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Based on these factors, President Biden's Executive Order 13988, issued in January 2021, affirmed this decision and officially expanded discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. HUD's memorandum in February 2021 strengthened the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act concerning this issue. If there's reasonable cause to believe discrimination has occurred, you can take legal action. Landlords are also prohibited from denying housing based on an individual's actual or perceived HIV/AIDS status or disability, as protected under the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Landlords are also prohibited from denying housing based on an individual's actual or perceived HIV/AIDS status or disability, as protected under the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

State-Specific Laws Protecting LGBTQIA+ Renters

Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that explicitly prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Use the map below and hover over each state to learn their laws regarding sex-based discrimination in housing.

Examples of Renting Discrimination Against LGBTQIA+ Community Covered by the Law

The FHA has set guidelines that landlords, property managers, and owners must follow to prevent discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community. Yet, even with these guidelines, addressing and eliminating housing discrimination remains challenging due to its often subtle nature. Recognizing common examples of rental discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community can guide you on what to be vigilant about.

Realtor Bias Against LGBTQIA+ Buyers

A realtor declines to present available houses to potential buyers based on their perceived or disclosed LGBTQIA+ identity.

Rental Denials Based on Family Composition

A housing provider denies a rental application due to their LGBTQIA+ family dynamic, like denying a rental application from a same-sex couple.

Harassment and Negligence

Tenants face continuous harassment due to their LGBTQIA+ status, with housing providers failing to address the situation.

Eviction Based on Gender Identity

A tenant is evicted after the housing provider learns of their LGBTQIA+ identity or relationships.

Geographical Bias in Rentals

Realtors or housing providers restrict LGBTQIA+ clients to specific areas and limit their housing choices. For instance, they only show LGBTQIA+-friendly neighborhoods to a same-sex couple despite their request to see units citywide.

Refusal of Services Over Personal Bias

Housing providers refuse essential services to tenants because of disagreements with their LGBTQIA+ identity or relationships, like denying repairs after witnessing a tenant's same-sex relationship.

What to Do if You Experience Housing Discrimination

Act promptly if you suspect you've encountered or are about to experience housing discrimination. Depending on your objectives, you can contact HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777, file an online complaint, connect with your local FHEO office or seek legal measures against the person exhibiting the discriminatory actions. Knowing the immediate actions to undertake after facing discrimination equips you to defend your rights and pursue fairness.

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    Document Everything

    Keep a detailed record of every discriminatory incident, including dates, times, locations and the individuals involved. Save any written communication, such as emails or letters, that may provide evidence of discrimination.

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    Report the Incident

    File a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) if you believe your rights under the Fair Housing Act have been violated. Depending on your state, there may be additional local agencies where you can report housing discrimination.

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    Seek Legal Advice

    Consult an attorney specializing in housing discrimination or civil rights. Many organizations offer free or low-cost legal services to individuals facing housing discrimination.

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    Connect With Supportive Organizations

    Reach out to LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups or housing rights organizations. They can provide guidance, resources and emotional support. These organizations may also be able to connect you with other individuals who have had similar experiences.

How to Find LGBTQIA+-Friendly Housing

Securing a rental as an LGBTQIA+ individual requires careful consideration to ensure you're not facing discrimination and that the housing is safe and inclusive. Determine whether both the landlord and the surrounding environment are LGBTQIA+-friendly, and be aware of inclusive options available.

Organizations like the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance provide an excellent resource for members of the LGBTQIA+ community in need of housing support or an ally looking to help.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Landlord or Property

Recognizing signs of inclusivity—and potential red flags—can make all the difference. Engage in open dialogue with potential landlords to clarify their stance towards the LGBTQIA+ community.

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    Inclusive Language

    Pay attention to listings that use inclusive language (like considerate pronoun use) or symbols (such as the pride flag). These can often indicate a welcoming environment.

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    Reviews and Testimonials

    Before finalizing any rental agreement, seek feedback from other LGBTQIA+ renters who have lived in the same place or dealt with the same landlord.

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    Avoid Listings That Seem Too Restrictive

    A listing with excessive rules or seeming overly invasive might not offer the most accepting environment.

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    Inclusivity Policies

    Directly inquire about your community's stance and policies regarding LGBTQIA+ tenants. A transparent and positive response can be reassuring.

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    Safety Measures

    Especially in areas where LGBTQIA+ individuals might face challenges, it's essential to ask about safety measures in place, such as security systems or community watch programs.

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    Community Engagement

    Ask if they've had LGBTQIA+ tenants before and if they participate in any inclusivity training or community events. This can give insight into their level of acceptance and awareness.

Local LGBTQIA+ Community Centers

Local LGBTQIA+ community centers frequently offer resources, such as bulletin boards or databases, which feature housing options recognized as safe and inclusive. To locate LGBTQIA+ community centers in your area, you can use CenterLink’s community directory tool.

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For the LGBTQIA+ community, renters insurance offers an added layer of protection when renting. It covers replacement costs for personal belongings, provides liability coverage in case of injuries or property damage in your rental, and offers support for temporary living expenses if your rental becomes uninhabitable due to covered perils outlined by your specific policy. When selecting a policy, understand the coverage limits and terms to ensure it aligns with your housing requirements and needs.

Housing Support and Resources for LGBTQIA+ Individuals

Several resources and tools can help you learn your rights and provide support for more inclusive housing. Support varies from offering rental assistance and housing support to empowering the LGBTQIA+ community with tools, services and programs.

Emergency Rental Assistance Funds

The Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program aids households struggling with rent or utility payments by offering federal funds to local programs. This resource can be particularly beneficial for LGBTQIA+ individuals facing financial barriers or discrimination when seeking housing. Coverages include rent, utilities, home energy costs, late fees, internet service and certain moving or rental-related fees. Local ERA programs handle applications with varying processes across areas.

Rent Assistance Finder by the CFPB

The rent assistance finder, facilitated by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), helps you connect with rental aid from state, tribal and local bodies. This platform can benefit LGBTQIA+ individuals by connecting them to supportive resources and legal protections. It offers resources on rental housing counseling through some HUD-approved agencies, which provide low- or no-cost guidance and legal rights as renters.

LGBTQIA+ Fair Housing Toolkit by HUD

The LGBTQIA+ Fair Housing Toolkit aims to educate various stakeholders — including housing providers, tenants, applicants and other housing consumers — on LGBTQIA+ fair housing protections. The LGBTQIA+ community can benefit from the toolkit's sections on laws and protections, as well as resources for reporting discrimination and understanding the LGBTQIA+ protections available.

Additional Resources

MoneyGeek has curated a list of organizations and initiatives dedicated to providing housing, support and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Whether you're seeking a safe place to stay, legal assistance or community connections, these resources are here to help.

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): The ACLU champions individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Dedicated to justice, freedom and equality, they tackle issues from free speech to racial justice.
  • GeoSure: GeoSure offers insight into more than 40,000 locations worldwide, providing ratings based on customized safety metrics for LGBTQIA+ residents.
  • Human Rights Campaign (HRC): The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is dedicated to advancing LGBTQIA+ equality. They combat misinformation, promote pro-equality policies and educate the public on LGBTQIA+ issues. With a grassroots force of 3 million members, HRC remains committed to ensuring rights and acceptance for everyone.
  • LGBT Housing Initiative: Originating from a 2019 meeting of the Keller Williams Rainbow Network, the LGBT Housing Initiative promotes homeownership within the LGBTQIA+ community and supports organizations assisting LGBTQIA+ unhoused youth.
  • LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance: Founded in 2016, the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance aims to create a comprehensive directory of LGBTQIA+-friendly real estate agents and brokers and lists businesses reflecting the LGBTQIA+ community’s ideals.
  • Movement Advancement Project’s LGBTQ Equality Map: The LGBTQ Equality map visually represents states with active LGBTQIA+ equality laws, showing the progressiveness of each state's laws.
  • National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP): NAGLREP assists LGBTQIA+ buyers with a vast referral network and holds events to raise awareness about housing rights for the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • National Runaway Safeline: The National Runaway Safeline supports at-risk youth and their families, serving as the federally designated communication system for runaway and unhoused youth.
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center: Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, the RHYTTAC provides training and technical assistance to all Runaway and Homeless Youth grantees.
  • The Trevor Project: The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQIA+ youth. Through various programs, they offer support, resources and advocacy to ensure the well-being and mental health of young LGBTQIA+ individuals.
  • True Colors United: True Colors United, based in New York, advocates for policy changes and offers free training to unhoused youth service providers to ensure inclusive spaces.

About Nathan Paulus

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Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.