Fair Housing laws are some of the most misunderstood regulations in the country.
Landlords and property managers have a legal responsibility to treat all applicants equally and fairly.
To learn more about fair housing laws, a great place to start are these top five tips:
1. Know the protected classes under federal law: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, familial status.
- The Fair Housing Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968, exactly one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- The Fair Housing Act originally included four protected classes: race, color, religion, and national origin.
- The law has since been amended to include sex, disability, and familial status, bringing the total number of protected classes to seven.
2. Don’t single out children in rules except to reasonably protect their health and safety.
- The Fair Housing Act bans discrimination against prospects and tenants based on familial status.
- This means that landlords can’t treat people differently because they have, or they plan to have, any children under 18 living with them in an apartment.
- But landlords may impose rules that legitimately aim to protect children, such as when it comes to using a swimming pool or playground.
3. Tell all prospects about apartments that match their search criteria.
- When prospects inquire about available apartments, some landlords tell them about only certain vacancies in their building.
- They might do this based on assumptions about the prospects’ needs, or just out of laziness or disorganization.
- But landlords who hide the existence of available apartments with certain prospects risk that they’ll bring discrimination complaints.
4. Make exceptions to pet policies as a reasonable accommodation for a disability.
- Many landlords across the United States choose to ban pets from living with tenants in apartments.
- Banning pets at an apartment building is a landlord’s decision to make and is not, in itself, a fair housing violation.
- But the Fair Housing Act requires landlords to consider requests for “accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services” and grant them, as long as they’re reasonable.
5. Don’t retaliate against tenants who accuse you of housing discrimination.
- Sometimes, landlords who are accused of discrimination are found to be liable and ordered to pay for their fair housing violations.
- Other times, landlords who are accused of fair housing violations are found to have done nothing illegal.
- Either way, landlords can get into additional fair housing trouble if they make things difficult for a tenant just for filing a fair housing complaint.
With these five tips, Fair Housing Helper is pleased to announce the launch of a new video series aimed at offering landlords, property managers, and other housing professionals quick guidance on how to comply with fair housing law.
For more helpful information about housing discrimination, visit fairhousingresources.com.