Housing Discrimination Laws

In the City of Milwaukee, there are rules and laws that prevent housing discrimination for certain protected groups.

Milwaukee County Ordinance Chapter 107 states:

“It is declared policy of the county that all persons shall have an equal opportunity for housing regardless of sex, race, color, disability, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, marital status of a person maintaining the household, lawful source of income, age, sexual orientation…”

This means that landlords cannot refuse to rent housing to international students because of their background or national origin. For example, a landlord could not refuse to rent from a Canadian student simply because they are from Canada.

However, “student status” is not a protected class, so some landlords may legally choose to refuse to rent to any students.

Additionally, there are other legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons a landlord may refuse to rent to an international student. These may include:

  • No job or unable to verify employment
  • Not enough income or unable to verify income
  • No credit check available or poor credit history
  • No co-signer available
  • Unable to do a criminal background check or bad record
  • No rental history
  • Bad landlord reference(s)
  • Prior eviction(s)
  • Unable to pursue a claim or collect damages against international students when they return home

The UW-Milwaukee Legal Clinic suggests international students offer to pay the landlord extra money in addition to the security deposit, if able.

The Neighborhood Housing Office also provides a list of International Student Friendly landlords who have requested to be on our International Student housing contact list (coming soon!).