National Origin

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National origin was one of the first four protected classes covered by the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and is protected at a federal level.

National origin means where you are from or perceived to be from. This includes ancestry, ethnicity, birthplace, culture, and language. Regardless of citizenship status, no one can be denied their fair housing rights because they or their family members are from another country, they speak a different language, or have customs or accents that associate them with another national origin. Refugees, immigrants, and those currently obtaining citizenship are all protected by fair housing laws.

Examples of discrimination include:
  • Requiring applicants to speak English.
  • Steering or limiting tenants of the same nationality to one area of the property, such as only allowing people of Hispanic origin to rent units on back or unseen side of the property.
  • Requiring only people from other countries to show extra forms of identification or documentation to apply for housing.
  • Requiring a co-signer because of immigration or refugee status.
  • Advertising tenant preferences based on language or ethnicity.
  • Refusing to allow someone to communicate with an interpreter or refusing to rent to a person who needs an interpreter.
  • Tell a person they are not allowed to cook cultural foods because the smell.
  • Lying about housing availability after hearing a person’s accent.
  • Targeted harassment such as:
    • Making offensive or derogatory statements about a persons culture.
    • Using racial or ethnic slurs.
    • Threatening to report families to the police or immigration authorities.
    • Vandalizing a family’s home with ethnic threats and slurs.
    • The owner or management failing to take action within their power to stop harassment by an employee, agent, or another tenant.


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The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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