Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Fair Housing Act & The "Mrs. Murphy Exemption"

From a post on the Fair Housing Defense blog:

  • As discussed in this space in past posts, our federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) contains a handful of exceptions, the most famous of which is the "Mrs. Murphy Exemption."

    This provision in the law provides that a home is exempt from the FHA if the dwelling has four or fewer rental units and the owner lives in one of those units. The exemption is based upon the hypothetical elderly widow, Mrs. Murphy, who would like to rent part of her home and who may desire to specifically pick out her tenants.

    A frequent question we at the Fair Housing Defense blog hear is “I live in [insert name of your state here]. Does the Mrs. Murphy exemption apply?” The general answer is “Yes” -- because the Mrs. Murphy exemption applies on a federal level to every state in the country.

    However, the final answer is often more complicated because many states have their own fair housing laws that provide for more stringent protections than the “floor” set by the FHA.

    When enacting their own fair housing laws, each state has the option of providing for the base exemption included in the FHA, but also has the option of limiting or eliminating the exemption under their own fair housing act. Even though you may be in compliance with the FHA, it’s entirely possible that some action that you take might be in violation of other state or local laws, regulations or ordinances.

    As such, please see below a quick “50 State Survey” of the Mrs. Murphy exemption to provide general guidance as to whether your state follows the FHA exemption or has chosen to limit that exemption in some way.
For the post, including the 50-state survey of the "Mrs. Murphy" exemption, see The FHA's "Mrs. Murphy" Exemption -- A 50 State Guide.

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