Fair Housing Laws: What you Need to Know?

Property Management Blog

Fair Housing Laws: What you Need to Know?

Fair Housing Laws are a set of laws passed by the federal government to protect the interests of certain categories of tenants. These laws provide protection against discrimination based on sex, religion, ethnicity, and family status. These laws, known as Federal Fair Housing Act, were passed in 1968 and later amended in 1988. They basically govern the relationship between tenants and their landlords.

Rules about advertising

As a landlord, you should only talk about your property rather than talking about what kind of tenants you want for your property. You cannot even claim your property to be perfect for certain group of renters such as a young family or a retired couple. You are violating the spirit of fair housing laws as you are trying to target certain groups of families. In short, your advertisement should not discriminate against potential tenants in any way.

Rules about tenant screening

You need to follow the rules of Fair Housing laws in letter and in spirit when screening your tenants. The words used in your form and the words you speak on phone should not imply any discrimination against the applicants. If you ask questions that are deemed personal or sensitive by the applicant, you could be in violation of the Fair Housing Laws. If an applicant is not able to become a tenant in your property and says that he has been discriminated against, you could be charged under the Federal Housing Act.

There is a term specifically mentioned in Fair Housing Laws. Steering is a term that applies to a situation where the landlord takes potential tenant to the best parts or positive features of his property to lure him to tenancy. Trying to convince a potential tenant that the property of a competitor is not suitable for him is also considered steering and illegal under Fair Housing Laws.

You cannot discriminate against an applicant based on his religion, gender, or family status. You cannot even ask questions that the applicant feels are discriminatory in nature. Of course, you can ask about his rental history or credit history. You are entitled to know whether he has ever been evicted by a landlord. You can also ask questions about his employment. It is also OK to ask why the applicant plans to move from his existing home to your property.

It is a good idea to get the questions in your form reviewed by an experienced attorney to make sure you are not violating the terms of Fair Housing Laws.  Also try to stick to these questions when interviewing your applicant.

Rules regarding disabled applicants

You are strictly prohibited to discriminate against disabled tenants under Fair Housing Laws. You cannot refer to the disability of the applicant whether it is visible or not. In short, keep in mind that you must treat a disabled applicant just like any other applicant. Your questionnaire should not contain any questions related to the disability of your applicants.

You shall stay clear of any trouble if you stick to the provisions of Fair Housing Act.

If you’d like to talk more about the value of inspections, or you need help with Everest Property Management, please contact us at Everest Realty. 

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