Question: I am a first-time landlord who just bought a six-unit apartment building as a personal investment. My Christian faith is extremely important to me and affects every aspect of my life. I would prefer to rent out the apartments in my building to other Christians, not because I am prejudiced against non-Christians but because I like the idea of creating a community of believers living together in fellowship.
I have been told that the fair housing laws do not allow me to specify in my advertising that I will accept only Christian tenants. Even if that is the rule, in my own selection process can I ask about an applicant's religious beliefs and give a preference to an applicant who is Christian if all other qualifications are even? By making a selection on this basis, I think I would just be exercising my own religious freedom guaranteed by our laws.
Also, would it violate the fair housing laws if I advertise rentals only in Christian newspapers or on Christian websites?
Answer: Both federal and state fair housing laws prohibit refusing to rent to a prospective tenant because of his or her religion, and you would be doing just that by choosing one applicant over another based on the fact that one of the applicants is a Christian, when all other qualifications are the same.