This section is designed to provide guidance to persons advertising for rent and the sale of housing and housing related services. The examples provided are not intended to be all inclusive.
Among housing providers it's common knowledge that putting up a sign in front of an apartment building that says "no children" or "adults only" would be discriminating against families with children. Housing providers also have to be careful not to use ads that say, "perfect house for couple", or "Christian family preferred". As a general rule ads should not contain words that express a preference based on a protected class.
A limited exception applies to renting out rooms. For example, if you are a woman and you have rooms to rent in your house, your ad for roommates may prefer females and can in fact exclude males. But, your ad may not prefer white females over black females nor may it prefer non-disabled females over disabled females. This limited exception applies only to sex and only when the owner lives in the house and wants to rent rooms to same sex roommates.
Generally, ads should describe the property and not the tenant. If the unit is close to a park the ad can say, "Two bedrooms, two bath unit with lots of closet space, close to a park and public transportation, available immediately". The ad describes some of the unit's features and amenities but says nothing about prospective tenants.
In addition, human models used in sales or rental ads and in brochures and other advertising material should reflect the community's diversity. For example, if a community is 20% Asian, 40% African American and 40% white, ads and brochures should not contain only white models. To do so may invite a housing discrimination complaint. Create models, ads and brochures that reflect the increasing diversity of our population.
Finally, the Equal Housing Opportunity Logo should appear in all advertisements. Using the logo creates a presumption that you're trying to follow the fair housing law.
The following information is to assist all advertising media, advertising agencies and all other persons who use advertising to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed or published, advertisements with respect to the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings which are in compliance with the requirements of the City of Dallas Fair Housing Ordinance.
This section also provides criteria for use by advertising media in determining whether to accept and publish advertising regarding sales or rental transactions. These criteria may be considered in making determinations as to whether there is reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred or is about to occur.
In the investigation of complaints, the City of Dallas Fair Housing Office may consider the implementation of fair housing policies and practices provided in this section as evidence of compliance with the prohibitions against discrimination in advertising under Dallas' Fair Housing Ordinance. Suggestions for fair housing advertisement are listed below.
- Use of equal housing opportunity logo type; statement; or slogan - Advertising residential real estate for sale, rent, or financing should contain an equal housing opportunity logotype, statement, or slogan as a means of educating the home seeking public that the property is available to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, or sexual orientation. The choice of logo type, statement, or slogan will depend on the type of media used (visual or auditory) and, in space advertising, on the size of the advertisement.
- Use of human models - Human models in photographs, drawings, or other graphic techniques may not be used to indicate exclusiveness because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, or sexual orientation. If models are used in display advertising campaigns, the models should be clearly definable as reasonably representing majority and minority groups in the metropolitan area, both sexes and, when appropriate, families with children. Models, if used, should portray persons in an equal social setting and indicate to the general public that the housing is open to all without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, or, sexual orientation and is not for the exclusive use of one such group. Human models include any depiction of a human being, paid or unpaid, resident or nonresident.
- Coverage of local laws - Where the equal housing opportunity statement is used, the advertisement may also include a statement regarding the coverage of any local fair housing or human rights ordinance prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of dwellings.
The selective use of advertising media or content when used exclusively with respect to various housing developments or sites can lead to discriminatory results and may indicate a violation of the fair housing law. For example, the use of English language media alone or the exclusive use of media catering to the majority population in an area, when, in such area, there are also available non-English language or other minority media, may have a discriminatory impact.
Similarly, the selective use of human models in advertisements may have a discriminatory impact. The following are examples of the selective use of advertisements that may be discriminatory:
- Selective geographic advertisements - Such selective use may involve the strategic placement of billboards; brochure advertisements distributed within a limited geographic area by hand or in the mail; advertising in particular geographic coverage editions of major metropolitan newspapers or in newspapers of limited circulation which are mainly advertising vehicles for reaching a particular segment of the community; or displays or announcements available only in selected sales offices.
- Selective use of equal opportunity slogan or logo type - When placing advertisements, such selective use may involve placing the equal housing opportunity slogan or logo in advertising reaching some geographic areas, but not others, or with respect to some properties but not others.
- Selective use of human models when conducting an advertising campaign - Selective advertising may involve an advertising campaign using human models primarily in media that cater to one racial or national origin segment of the population without a complementary advertising campaign that is directed at other groups. Another example may involve use of racially mixed models by a developer to advertise one development and not others. Similar care must be exercised in advertising in publications or other media directed at one particular sex, or at persons without children. Such selective advertising may involve the use of human models of members of only one sex, or of adults only, in displays, photographs, or drawings to indicate preferences for one sex or the other, or for adults to the exclusion of children. In addition, human models in photographs, drawings, or other graphic techniques may not be used to indicate exclusiveness because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, or sexual orientation.