Category: being gay and renting

Housing Discrimination and Gays

I have a guest house on my property that I’ve been renting out for nine years. So far, I’ve been lucky to have had excellent tenants each time. The first one lasted two years, the next one six, and the most recent lasted one year.

And I’m now searching for another tenant and going through the showing stage all over again. And this article caught my eye. I can tell you that I’ve never been discriminated against for being gay as a renter. And I’ve rented plenty of commercial space for businesses over the years. In fact, I’ve never experienced discrimination as a gay man, not in hospitals, in restaurants, or on any retail/public places. But evidently it happens. I will add, however, I’ve never inquired about renting space in a place where I felt there might be a problem. I’ve always been extremely cautious and intuitive about these things and I’ve never placed myself in a situation like the one below.

Question: My bff & I share an apartment and the lease ends next month. She asked her boyfriend if we could stay at his house (we would pay rent). He said yes but last minute reneged when he found out her roomie was a gay man (me). Is this housing discrimination?
-Homeless Will & Grace

Hey Will,
What a creep! He was all gung-ho when he thought 2 hot gals would be parading around his house all day in see-through nighties. No wonder he was so quick to agree to this. He thought he was Jack & you two would be Janet & Chrissy…..but instead he got Janet & Chris. Oops!

As much of a sitcom as this sounds like, this is no laughing matter. Your lease is ending. Your housing plans fell flat. You are about to be homeless. Worst of all, your bff is boinking a bigot. But to answer your question, is this housing discrimination? Nope, its not.

The reason for this answer is that the property is his personal residence. And he has every right to pick who gets to live with him. Even if you offered to pay rent, that place is still his home. It is not against the law for a homeowner to be picky about who he shares his personal space with.

However, if this house was strictly a rental property, this could qualify as discrimination because it would be subject to fair housing laws. But it gets a little sticky in your situation. First you would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt there was discrimination on his part, which is not easy to do, especially since you have the burden of proof. Secondly, even if you had proof, depending upon where you live, it may not be actionable because housing laws do not always cover LGBT community.

At any rate, I would ask your current landlord if a month-to-month lease is possible, so you can have some time to figure out your next step. Alternatively, if your bff moves in with her bigoted boo (alliteration!), can you replace her with a new roommate so you can stay? You two are probably attached at the hip, but even Will & Grace had to eventually split to lead their own lives…

I think the real tragedy of this situation is not the housing dilemma so much as it is that your bff would date such a blatant homophobe. I suggest you downgrade her from ‘best friend forever’ to just friend.


Herman Chan, a realtor, has appeared on HGTV’s House Hunters, My House is Worth What, and as a commentator on other networks. Realtor Magazine called him the “Internet Sensation Videoblogger.” Chan’s columns on real estate will alternate with his video blogs on real estate every Tuesday on 365gay.