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Housing Law

This guide provides information on housing law and identifies print and online resources.

Housing Law in the United States is primarily focused on the protections and rights given to citizens to secure a place to live. Research in this area involves locating many layers of law:

  • Federal laws that establish basic rights and protections
  • State laws that establish the landlord/tenant relationship and may add additional protections
  • The federal Housing & Urban Development agency works with each state's agency to administer housing programs and distribute funding
  • Local city planning and zoning boards who pass ordinances and restrictions on local building

Each group will have its own set of laws and guidance, which will have to be interpreted by the courts. 

Cases

Several different courts could hear a case involving housing. State and local courts often hear cases on landlord/tenant relations, while federal courts usually have jurisdiction over claims of housing discrimination and federally-funded affordable housing programs disputes.

Below are links to a few sources offering judicial decisions relating to housing. However, these sources only present a very small slice of case law on these topics.To locate additional cases on housing law, use LexisNexis, Westlaw, and/or Bloomberg Law.

Statutes

Federal statutes, including those on housing topics, are codified in the U.S. Code.  Two significant federal statutes addressing housing discrimination and affordable housing programs are The Fair Housing Act and The Department of Housing and Urban Development Act. Both are codified in title 42 of the United States Code.

Regulations

Title 24, Code of Federal Regulations: Housing and Urban Development

To locate cases and articles interpreting a particular regulation, use Westlaw or LexisNexis to view citing documents.

Ordinances

Municode and General Code are services that collect municipal codes/local ordinances and index them. The free service allows searching within a specific code; a subscription will allow you to search for a single type of ordinance across several code or within the state or nation. 

The Law Library is in the process of acquiring a subscription to Municode; contact a law librarian for access.

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