Fair Housing Act Complaint Process

HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) mission is to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse and inclusive communities by leading the nation in the enforcement, administration, development, and public understanding of federal fair housing policies and laws, to include:

  • The Fair Housing Act
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968

An Overview of FHEO’s Complaint and Investigation Process

FHEO begins its complaint investigation process shortly after receiving a complaint. You must file your complaint within one year of the last date of the alleged discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. Other civil rights authorities allow for complaints to be filed after one year for good cause, but FHEO recommends filing as soon as possible. Generally, FHEO will either investigate the complaint or refer the complaint to another agency to investigate.

Throughout the investigation, FHEO will make efforts to help the parties reach an agreement. If the complaint cannot be resolved voluntarily by an agreement, FHEO may issue findings from the investigation. If the investigation shows that the law has been violated, HUD or the Department of Justice may take legal action to enforce the law.


When an individual reports possible discrimination, the FHEO first determines whether a formal complaint can be filed under one of the laws subject to enforcement.

  • The FHEO may interview the individual who wishes to file a complaint.
  • Where appropriate, FHEO will draft a formal complaint and notify the parties that a complaint has been filed.
  • As part of HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP), FHEO may refer a fair housing complaint to a state or local government agency for investigation.
  • In certain circumstances, FHEO may initiate a compliance review based on the information submitted in the complaint.

Conciliation or Voluntary Compliance

At any time, the parties can resolve the complaint under terms that are satisfactory to both parties and HUD.

  • Throughout the investigation, HUD will try to help the parties resolve the complaint through an agreement. Any agreement is voluntary; no party is required to accept an offer.
  • If the parties agree, HUD will prepare an agreement for signature.
  • Following a signed agreement, HUD will close the investigation and monitor compliance with the agreement.
  • Depending on the authorities that apply to the complaint, HUD may resolve the investigation through a document called a "Conciliation Agreement," a "Voluntary Compliance Agreement," or both.


After a formal complaint is filed, FHEO will investigate the allegations.

  • HUD will assign one or more investigators to investigate the allegations made in the complaint.
  • After a complaint is submitted, the investigator may ask the complainant to provide more information.
  • HUD will provide the party against whom the complaint is filed with notice and an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
  • HUD may gather evidence in many ways, including interviewing parties and witnesses, getting documents, and inspecting properties.
  • After completing the investigation, FHEO will send you a written report of its findings.

Legal Action

Where appropriate, FHEO may take legal action to enforce the law.

  • The government may bring a Fair Housing Act or other civil rights case based on the findings of a HUD investigation. Examples of the relief sought in such cases may include compensation for victims, changes to policies, procedures, and training.
  • When the government brings legal action, it does not charge any fees or costs to individuals who are alleging discrimination.
  • Cases before HUD Administrative Law Judges are handled by HUD’s Office of General Counsel, and cases in the federal courts are handled by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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