Do you KNOW A Mrs. Murphy? You should if you WANT to Avoid Fair Housing Issues.


This is not a new provision, but Wallace does an excellent job of explaining it and laying out its use. Thanks, Wallace, for a great post.


What every real estate agent has heard and few remember is that there are EXEMPTIONS to the FEDERAL Fair Housing Act.

One of those exemptions is the Mrs. Murphy's rule OR Mrs. Murphy's Exemption under the FHA.  This exemption provides that if a "dwelling" has four or fewer rental units and the OWNER lives in one of those units, that the home is exempt from the FHA.  There really is no Mrs. Murphy * she is a fictional elderly widow who has converted her home into a rental or boarding house to supplement her income.

NOW, with the economic downturn, there has come the recent EXPLOSION of roommate advertising and matching websites.

Trisha Rowe of Grand Rapids Michigan wanted a roommate for the three bedroom single family home she owned.  She posted a notice in a church bulletin indicating that she was looking for a female CHRISTIAN roommate.  The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan filed a complaint stating that Ms. Rowe expressed an ILLEGAL preference for a Christian roommate.  This prompted the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to take action.

....almost like Mrs. Murphy was NOT a feature in the FHA.

The Alliance Defense Fund provided legal assistance to Ms. Rowe and invoked her freedom of association under the First Amendment of the US Constitution and ULTIMATELY HUD agreed.

In a separate case,, which provides roommate locator service from their website, requests that users provide a "profile" where their roommate preferences can be "searched".

The Fair Housing Councils of San Fernando Valley and San Dieto filed lawsuits against indicating that these searches were a violation of the FHA.

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit rejected these Housing Councils' claims.

The Court indicated that a roommate's unfettered access to one's home implicated considerations of SAFETY, PRIVACY, PROPERTY PROTECTION and the CONSTITUTIONAL FREEDOM of ASSOCIATION.  

KUDOS! Mrs. Murphy is Alive and Well and Taking in ROOMMATES!



View our available Charlottesville, Albemarle and Lake Monticello rental homes online with photos and floor plans

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Comment balloon 6 commentsSteve Hoffacker • February 07 2012 08:36PM


Steve - Wallace does a great job explaining this!  Thank you very much for sharing.


Posted by Bill & Cyndi Daves, TeamDAVES - Your REALTORS In the GA/NC Mountains! (Hiawassee, Young Harris, Blairsville, Hayesville, Murphy and Beyond!) over 8 years ago


The post is an excellent example of the law.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 8 years ago

Steve * thank you for the REblog....taking in roommates is often an INCOME issue for people * especially single women * who want to keep their home.  This should be ENCOURAGED so that homeowners do not risk foreclosure or bankruptcy

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 8 years ago

Bill and Cyndi,

Yes, this is well-written. Thanks. :)


Posted by Steve Hoffacker, Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor (Steve Hoffacker LLC) over 8 years ago


Yes it is. Thanks. :)


Posted by Steve Hoffacker, Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor (Steve Hoffacker LLC) over 8 years ago


Great points. Thanks.

Good post to reblog. My pleasure. :)


Posted by Steve Hoffacker, Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor (Steve Hoffacker LLC) over 8 years ago