What Are the Fair Housing Act Exemptions

The Fair Housing Act is designed to help give everyone an equal opportunity to get into a home that can meet their needs without facing discrimination in the form of religion, race, origin, or gender.

Some states have specific exemptions that are different from the federal guidelines, but for the most part each state is at least as strict, if not even more strict, with their exemptions to the FHA.

Are you what the Fair Housing Act exemptions happen to be or wonder if you qualify for an exemption?

Here are the basics of what you need to know so that you can keep your business and your property in proper compliance with state and federal laws.

Housing for Seniors May Qualify

If the rental units you have as a landlord are specifically marketed and intended toward a population that is 62 or older, then you may qualify for a FHA exemption.

This exemption may also be extended to a complex that is intended for people who are 55 and older and has an 80% occupancy rate of this senior age group, even though there are younger individuals living in the complex as well.

Small Properties Often Qualify for FHA Exemptions

Under federal law, any housing complex that has less than four unique units and has one of those units occupied by the owner will be exempt from the FHA.

The stipulation to this exemption, however, is that the owner of the property may not state or in any way specify what their preferences happen to be in the rental of their units.

Advertising may not include any exclusions and there is a prohibition in place to prevent discriminatory practices, even though the property qualifies as being exempt.

Religious Organizations May Qualify

If a religious organization owns a housing complex and it is used for religious purposes, the it may be exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

A lot of the exemption depends on whether or not the primary use of the complex is for permanent residential purposes or temporary lodging for religious purposes.

A living facility for hired pastors, for example, that includes their family may not be exempt from the FHA because this would be their permanent address.

A seminary with dorm housing, however, may qualify.

Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Individuals

The primary issue with accommodations is in regards to the impact of the landlord's business more than the ability to provide the accommodation itself.

If no dramatic impact to a landlord's business can be proven by the provision of an accommodation, then a landlord is expected to meet that requested accommodation assuming the prospective tenant has requested it in writing. What qualifies as an undue burden for a business?

That's taken on a case-by-case basis, but usually is a combination of cost and time investment in order to get a return on the investment.

Posted on Jun 04, 2014


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