Fair Housing

Fair Housing

Being unfamiliar with housing discrimination laws can get any landlord into trouble, let alone the do-it-yourself home owner who wants to manage their one rentals.   And this includes the wrong interview questions to ask your perspective tenant.  These questions includes such topics as:

1) Race:  You can NOT ask any questions about your applicant’s race regardless of how causal and friendly it might sound.   Are you Japanese, Korean.. might sound like an innocent questions, but it’s not.   The applicant can seek remedy in US Federal courts if they don’t get to rent from you based on a claim that their race was topic of a conversation and present Race as the source for discrimination.

2) Color:  This reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s comment that because of President Obama’s election Racism is over!  That’s a piece of satire at it’s best, but we all know that racism is not over and any question about color of your tenant is not only inappropriate, but illegal as well.

3) Religion :  Religion and the upheaval in the Middle East might be a tempting topic, but find another discussion partner other than your applicant for your rentals if you want to avoid trouble.  are not allowed to discuss religion with your tenant.  

4) Sex:  Comments like “I always like to rent to women since they are more responsible”, 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.

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.

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