COACH's Pop Quiz!

Q: You could be accused of a fair housing violation if you wish a resident a “Merry Christmas.” True or false?


A: False. HUD has stated that the use of secularized terms or symbols relating to religious holidays, such as Santa Claus or phrases such as “Merry Christmas” or the like, do not violate federal fair housing law. Wishing someone a Merry Christmas is unlikely, by itself, to lead to a discrimination claim, but you could opt for more secular greetings, such as “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings,” when speaking to applicants and residents.

In the December 2019 lesson, Fair Housing Coach focuses on avoiding discrimination claims based on religion during the holidays—and all throughout the year. You don’t have to be a “Grinch” to comply with fair housing law. The key is to celebrate the general festivity of the season without promoting a particular religion or particular religious holiday. That way, you’ll satisfy fair housing concerns by showing that your community welcomes everyone—regardless of their religious practices or beliefs.

The December lesson, “How to Avoid Religious Discrimination Claims During the Holidays,” is available to subscribers here.