When you become a landlord, you’re required to stay up to date on all the local, state and federal laws that govern real estate and landlord/tenant relationships. One of the most important laws is the federal Fair Housing Law. It’s a pretty clear law, but there are still landlords and property managers who violate it all the time, probably without even realizing it. Here’s a quick summary of fair housing laws and what you need to be aware of.
As a landlord, you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or familial status. These are obvious things that most people know, even if they aren’t landlords at all. However, mistakes can be made easily, even if you are aware of the law.
There are many common errors that we see, and you need to avoid them. For example, if you have a home for rent and you tell a prospective tenant it’s not available just because you don’t want to rent to that person due to their race or color, that’s a violation. You cannot do that and it’s illegal. If you refuse to allow a person with a disability to make reasonable modifications to your property, that’s a violation as well. If you are contacted by someone who is interested in renting from you and you give them different terms and conditions for the rental than you give other people, you’re violating fair housing laws. Following the fair housing laws is not optional. You are legally required to treat everyone fairly and the most important thing you can do is to be consistent and fair to every applicant. Remember that laws are always being updated, so you have to stay up to date.
Contact us at Cape Shore Property Management if you have any questions about fair housing and how it applies to your advertising, screening and rental policies.