Legal and Fair With Housing

You can stay legal and fair with housing while creating or finding like-minded community. The FIC directory does a great job listing intentional communities that are established and open to new members. Because they advertise housing, they have to be careful to comply with Fair Housing Law.

ICmatch is intended to provide a service that isn’t what the FIC listings are ideally set up for. ICmatch is to help new founders groups form. It’s important that ICmatch profiles don’t advertise housing, because some of the profile information is protected by fair housing law.

Say you’re a family that wants to form a small residential community that has kids of similar age. It would be important to find others that want the same, but finding out about “familial status” (a protected category) has to happen separately from a post that could be interpreted as housing availability. The families-oriented group can form using, then together they can establish residence.

What Fair Housing Law is Intended For

If you are offering a rental apartment that’s across town from you, it doesn’t matter if you like the prospective tenant. If they pass the credit check and their references are good, they should be accepted. You both have legal protections. As long as you treat each other with professionalism and respect, and everything should go fairly smoothly and you’ll probably have minimal contact with each other. The legally protected characteristics are a valid way to create more equal opportunity. This law makes sense if you aren’t living near or with the tenant.


The Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent, and housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.


There may be other legal exceptions you could get from local housing authorities. For example, retirement homes have an exemption from laws against age and gender discrimination. If you have a non-profit with a stated mandate to serve a particular group, that is likely to hold up in court if you were to be challenged about who you are giving preferential treatment to. If you have substantial assets to protect, seek legal help relevant to your jurisdiction.

Be Honest Without Incriminating Language

If you’re looking for a housemate, maybe even a roommate, it does matter if you are compatible, even if one of you is a prospective tenant. One of you is a religious renunciate craving a quiet peaceful life, and the other is a wild partier with lots of friends. One of you has young children and the other is a collector of delicate figurines and loves to have them out on display. Do each other a favor and speak the truth, in the nicest way possible. No one has to say anything legally incriminating about religion or children. The one offering the housing could say, “I’m going to wait a week or two so that I have a few applicants to choose from.”

Be Realistic About What You Can Tolerate

One of you is allergic to cats and the other has five of them. At least in this case you can say what the real issue is without hurting anyone’s feelings. One of you is a neat freak minimalist and the other a hoarder who feels too time pressured to keep things organized and put away. Why make life harder than it already is? Find a way of saying, “I don’t think it would work out.”

Founder’s Groups

A founder’s group is not subject to discrimination laws because it is a friendship group and/or a business partnership, not an employee relationship or a landlord/tenant relationship. Even if one or more members owns property, you might end up moving to a different property based on the needs of the group. Don’t let fears about a few bad actors prevent you from creating the community of your dreams.

Established Residential ICs

Intentional communities are about shared space or shared housing, so we need to tease out the difference. If you are an established intentional community, you do need to be careful to avoid discrimination. The best way of making sure you have compatible people coming in when there’s a vacancy is to keep a waiting list and invite prospective members to join certain events so you can get better acquainted. That way you will never have to advertise a unit. However, you could legally advertise to invite people to join an event and get on your waiting list.

If you’re interested in joining an established intentional community, there’s nothing to stop you from sharing your profile link with those you’re interested in. They would get a lot of useful information about what you could offer and whether you’d be a good cultural fit. It only could get the community in trouble if they asked for the information.