Tenant screening can not be treated as a casual conversation between 2 adults that might get into a rental agreement together. There are serious guidelines that prohibit asking questions about certain topics that have historically been sources of housing discrimination. These 5 Topics that are considering part of the Housing Discrimination are:
1) Color: Stephen Colbert is safe to comment that because of President Obama’s election Racism is over! But that’s a comedy show with very good writers. Color is inappropriate of discussion for a tenant screening interview and it is illegal.
2) Religion : The upheaval Syria, Egypt might be fresh on your mind, but keep in mind that religion is not a proper topic for a tenant screening interview. You are not allowed to discuss religion with your tenant.
3) Race: Topic of race is also illegal during tenant screening. Are you Korean, Chinese, Arab……etc might sound like harmless questions, but they are illegal and hence inappropriate for tenant screening.
4) Sex: Comments like “I always like to rent to men since they are more handy”, might appear to be a very casual and innocent observation, but it can be considered a source for housing discrimination. So, avoid it in your interviews for tenant screening.
5) National Origins: American are a curious bunch and friendly by nature. But “where are you from” does not belong in a tenant screening conversation. So,don’t ever ask your tenant such a question.
Bottom line is that these 5 Topics are off limits for a tenant screening interview. The applicants who do not get to rent the property from you can seek remedy in US Federal courts and based on a claim Housing Discrimination based on the mere fact that that their race, religion, color and national origin was a topic of a conversation.
Finally, housing discrimination includes refusing to show a person an apartment or house for rent, telling a person that the apartment or house is not available when it is, quoting a higher rent to one person than to another, or having different terms and conditions for renting to certain people. . The federal law forbids practices that, for example, deny tenants with children rental units because of an “adults only” or a “no children” policy. It prohibits denying people with mental or physical problems housing regardless of the landlord’s preference.
Department of Fair Housing has some more information about these topics, but we are convinced that complicated housing laws are enough justification to hire a property manager.
What do you think!? We would love to hear from you.