The landlord in this case refused to rent to tenants whose rent would be paid, in part, by federal “Section 8” low income housing vouchers. This policy violates Montgomery County’s fair housing law, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on “source of income.” However, the Montgomery County Circuit Court ruled that the landlord’s policy was lawful because the administrative burdens of accepting vouchers imposed an “undue burden.”

In May 2007 the Maryland Court of Appeals granted review, and we joined with the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, the Equal Rights Center, the Maryland Fair Housing Alliance, the ACLU of Maryland, and others in filing an amicus brief arguing that the landlord’s desire to avoid administrative burdens was no defense, and that federal law (making participation in Section 8 voluntary) did not preempt the county’s law.

In November 2007 the Court of Appeals agreed that the landlord’s conduct violated county law and was not protected by federal law. 

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

Date filed

May 1, 2007


Amicus Filed