Can A Landlord Refuse To Rent To Me Based On Personal Preference?

“It’s my property, so I can rent to whomever I like.” This attitude is no longer valid, and landlords must realize that today there are legal limits on the landlord’s decisions. A landlord’s tastes may be reasonable, strict, or quirky, but they cannot be based on race, religion, gender, sexual preference, or other categories that the law explicitly protects.

Can the landlord choose the tenants based on who he likes?

Yes – within limits set by the law.

Federal, state, and local landlord laws make it illegal for landlords to “discriminate.” But people sometimes say “That’s discrimination!” without understanding what is prohibited.

Federal laws prevent landlords from discriminating on the grounds of race, religion, sex, ethnic background, and disability. Some state and local laws go further, prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of marital status, sexual orientation, presence of children, and age.

But so long as the landlord is not discriminating on one of the listed grounds, he may rent to whomever he like. If the landlord does not allow smokers, or if he determines a prospective tenant is a poor credit risk (even if the landlord is wrong), or if for some other non prohibited reason the landlord just doesn’t like the person, there is no law to stop him from rejecting a tenant on that reason.

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