Explanation of the Fair Housing Laws for Landlords

The Fair Housing Act is an amendment to Title VIII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1968. This resulted in the use of nondiscriminatory rental and sales practices and does not allow landlords to discriminate with housing related transactions when it comes to race, color, religion, origin, or disability. Landlords can become liable for misrepresenting the availability of a unit. Discriminating against a received application, or advertising for the specific preference of tenants. Applying any form of increased burdensome of rental criteria can make a landlord become liable for his actions. Landlords may not ask about physical disabilities or select the unit type.

10 Tips to Fair Housing Laws for Landlords

When it comes to operating within today’s system of fair housing laws, landlords should follow the 10 below tips to help protect themselves and increase their understanding of these laws.

1. Advertising
This is one of the most common forms that prospective tenants locate available properties. Landlords should not describe properties for lease by using phrases such as exclusive or young couples that may imply that a certain form of demographic is being looked at. The ending of any advertisement should include a disclaimer that mentioned how the community does not discriminate against race, color, or religion.

2. Steering
Steering is used when a landlord attempts to redirect a resident to a specific area of the property. If a person is handicap or disables, all recreational aspects of the property should still be shown to avoid creating the liability of assuming their capabilities or neglect of use in those facilities. Comments should never be made about the type of people who live within the community.

3. Screen and Application Process
Rental criteria and policies should be outlined to serve as guidelines to achieving the success of renting a property. These guidelines must also meet Fair Housing standards with good records maintained about the prospective client before making a final decision.

4. Occupancy
Occupancy standards have been set since 1996 when Congress enacted the 1991 HUD memo. This states that a 2 person per bedroom occupancy standard was deemed acceptable in most situations. Infants are normally not accounted for in determine the occupancy of a residence.

5. Apartment Policies
All apartment house rules should be designed to be non-discriminatory. Terms such as residents or guests are considered not biased and fair to use when referring to all. Setting rules specific to groups of children and referring to them can be considered biased. However, setting rules that say children under 12 must be supervised by an adult can be seen as not discriminatory.

6. Reasonable Accommodation
For residents that are considered to be disabled, landlords can set reasonable accommodations at the request of the individual voluntarily. However, this should not present an undue burden to the landlord not impose hardship. A landlord may deny a request but must include the detailed of denial. Offering accommodations should not be made at the initiative of the landlord unless requested by the tenant first. Doing so, may pose to lead to a claim of discrimination.

7. Reasonable Modification
Reasonable modification allows a landlord to request a resident to pay for modifications to the property and remove upon vacating. If the modification is required by law, the landlord must pay for its costs. As with accommodations, the modifications must be reasonable.

8. Records
Records should be maintained for all prospective tenants in addition to current and past residents of the property. These can include logs of those that come to preview the property, were rejected, or withdrawn. This can assist a landlord with defending against a future Fair Housing claim.

9. Training
Any individual that is involved in managing the property must ensure to have received fair housing training to stay in compliance with its requirements.

10. Eviction
Landlords should not be afraid to evict a tenant for legitimate reasons due to a fear of receiving a fair housing complaint. Eviction may occur due to non-payment or other violation of the lease agreement. To protect themselves, landlords should send warning letters or eviction notices, written complains, written logs, any police records of an incident, and photographs.
Posted on Feb 10, 2014


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