Fair Housing Laws For Landlords To Be Mindful Of

Fair Housing Laws | Property Management

Everyone should have the right to rent a home, buy a home, or get a mortgage on a home without worrying about being discriminated against. This is why the Fair Housing Act was created. It puts an end to discriminatory practices that involve housing. Under this law, you cannot be denied housing because of your:

  • Color
  • Disability
  • Familial Status (being pregnant or having children under the age of 18)
  • National Origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex

As a landlord, you must be familiar with the fair housing laws to avoid misunderstandings, angry tenants, and costly lawsuits. Here are some of the most important fair housing laws you need to be aware of when renting out a property:

Questions You Can (And Can’t) Ask

It is highly recommended to perform a thorough background check on all potential tenants. This means looking into their credit history, their rental history, and their criminal background. It means asking the right questions to find tenants who are the best match for your property. But there are some questions you can not ask a tenant, or you’ll violate fair housing laws. You will want to avoid questions that ask about a tenant’s race and cultural background, such as “Are you white or Hispanic?” or “What is your first language?”

You also want to stay away from personal questions such as:

  • Are you disabled?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Married?
  • Divorced?

When it comes to finding out about potential criminal background, you can ask a prospective tenant if they have ever been convicted, but you cannot ask if they have ever been arrested.

Have a list of qualifying questions that you asked every single tenant. This way, you won’t be accused of asking a specific set of questions to one tenant and not another.

Some questions you can ask tenants before choosing a tenant to occupy their property. These are:

  • What is your income?
  • Who is your employer?
  • Can I see copies of your pay stubs?
  • Can you provide references?
  • Do I have permission to check your credit?

Reasonable Accommodations

The Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. This includes adjusting or modifying any “rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.”

An example of making a reasonable accommodation for a tenant with a disability would be waiving a no pet policy for a tenant who has a service animal.

Tenants are also permitted to make reasonable accommodations to help make their living space safer and more accommodating based on their disability. As a general rule, these types of reasonable accommodations are made at the tenants’ expense. This could look like having a ramp installed at the front door of the home or adding safety bars to the bathtubs. As a landlord, you are allowed to require a tenant to return the property to its original condition when they move out.

Fair Housing Laws And Families

Families And Fair Housing Laws | Property Management

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against tenants due to the setup of their family or the number of children that they have. It is unlawful to have no children policies for your rentals, or only allowing families with children to rent specific properties or in certain areas.

It is also illegal to prohibit children from using specific amenities, such as the community pool. However, you are allowed to enforce a rule that children must be supervised by an adult while in the pool. You can’t have special adult hours for lounge areas or amenities that your community provides, and you could find yourself in a lot of trouble for banning activities or equipment that are most commonly used by children, such as outside toys and bicycles.

Be careful to avoid terms like “No Kids, Couples Only, Great For College Students” because this could come across as discriminatory towards families with children.

As a landlord, it is essential for your livelihood that you ask the right questions, do the research, and stay on top of fair housing laws. Be consistent in the documentation you require, the interviews you conduct, and the referrals you check. When you are aware of the questions you can and can’t ask, you can stay compliant with the Fair Housing Act and avoid being accused of discrimination.

Utilizing the services of a Murrieta Property Manager  or a Meniffe Property Management Company can be invaluable. They are aware of the many ever-changing fair housing laws and can help navigate them for you. Benefit National is a full service, flat fee property management company with an outstanding reputation. We’re here when you need us!