Fair housing laws are in place to protect classes of people against discrimination when it comes to rental housing. When landlords violate these laws, it’s often because they don’t completely understand them. Avoid mistakes with fair housing by following these four tips.
Be Consistent and Fair
You have to treat everyone the same. Whether you are advertising your property, collecting applications, screening applications, or making decisions about who is approved for your property, you need to have consistent practices in place. When you treat one applicant differently than you treat another applicant, you can be accused of discrimination, and you’ll be violating fair housing laws. Every potential tenant must be subjected to the same screening and application process.
Document Your Policies in Writing
Put together your application process as well as the criteria you’ll use to screen applicants, and document the procedures in writing. Provide prospective tenants with a copy of your written criteria before they apply, so they’ll have an idea of whether they meet your requirements. When you have your process in writing, you’ll be able to prove that you do treat everyone fairly and consistently.
Know the Difference Between Service Animals and Pets
If you don’t want to allow pets in your property, that’s perfectly acceptable. However, if a tenant needs a service animal or an applicant wants to move in with a service animal, you need to allow it. Service animals are not considered pets, and they are protected by the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. You cannot charge a pet fee or a pet deposit when they move in, and you are not permitted to deny a tenant’s application based solely on the fact that the tenant has a disability and needs a service animal.
Take the time to get to know all the state, local, and federal laws that pertain to fair housing. If you don’t feel like you can familiarize yourself with these regulations, work with a property manager who understands them and can protect you from potential mistakes and lawsuits. Fair housing violations can be very expensive, and you don’t want to make a mistake simply because you don’t understand the laws.
If you have any questions about fair housing, please contact us at Dave Poletti & Associates. We’d be happy to tell you more.