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What You Need to Know About Fair Housing Laws

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Marina Shlomov - Monday, March 19, 2018

 

What You Need to Know About Fair Housing Laws

 

Fair Housing laws were put into place to protect individuals from discrimination based upon the following criteria:  race or color, religion, national origin, familial status (including families with children under the age of 18 and pregnant women), disability or handicap, or sex. The federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the federal Fair Housing Act Amendments Act of 1988 govern landlord-tenant relationships. 

 

Advertising your property

 

When advertising your rental property, you should focus solely on the property and not on who you are looking for to rent it. In other words, avoid statements such as, “would be perfect for a young family,” or “a great find for a retired couple.” These imply that you are seeking a tenant from a certain group and can be considered discriminatory. 

In addition, it is always a good idea to end your advertisement with a statement from the Fair Housing Act, letting potential tenants know that you are aware of the law and that you do not discriminate based on all of the listed criteria.

 

Tenant Screening

 

When it comes to screening tenants, it is imperative that you follow the rules set forth in the Fair Housing Act. This applies to written words, those spoken over the phone, those spoken in person, and so forth. You must take caution with your wording or when addressing the potential tenant. 

It is illegal to discriminate against an individual based on the above criteria. If you ask a particular question during your screening that the tenant feels may be a violation – and he or she is not able to rent the property – you may be faced with allegations. 

Steering is the practice of guiding the potential tenant to specific parts of the rental property (the best or the worst areas) or subtly convincing the potential tenant that he or she would or would not like a specific property or unit. This is considered illegal per the Fair Housing guidelines and should be avoided. 

During the interview process, it is ok to ask questions regarding things such as rental history, credit history, employment, prior evictions, or even why they are moving from their current rental home. The answers to these questions should give you all of the information you need to make an honest – and fair – decision. 

Tip: Create a list of criteria/questions and your lease agreement and have it reviewed by an attorney to ensure you are within the law. Then, choose to not deviate from those documents. 

 

Disabled tenants

 

According to the Fair Housing Act, you cannot discriminate against disabled individuals. Whether the disability is visible or not, do not address it – it is illegal to treat a disabled person any different than you would treat someone who was not. In addition, questions on your lease agreement should not ask about physical or mental disabilities.

 

Contact HUD for more info

 

If you have questions regarding the Fair Housing Act of 1968 or would like more information, you should reach out to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 669-9777 or check out their website for more information. 

Marina ShlomovMarina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Realty & Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at www.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on FacebookGoogle+, Blogger. and YouTube, Bigger Pockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.




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