There are fair housing laws at the federal, state, and local level that are designed to prevent discrimination in housing. It’s important that you know how to avoid housing discrimination, because you can find yourself in a lot of legal trouble if you deny an application for the wrong reasons or treat one tenant differently than you treat another tenant.
Avoid the Practice of Redlining
There are several protected classes in fair housing laws, and you cannot deny rentals based on things such as race, ethnicity, job, gender, or familial status. That practice is called redlining, and if someone files a valid complaint against you, it can cost thousands of dollars in civil penalties. For a complete list of protected classes, visit the HUD.gov website so you can read about the federal Fair Housing Act. You’ll also need to understand the California laws that prohibit housing discrimination as well as any local statutes.
Consistent Application Procedures
While housing discrimination can happen at any time during the rental process, even the advertising stage, most of the danger rests in the application process. We recommend you set general procedures for your applicants, and then follow those policies consistently for everyone who applies to live in your home. Provide a written list of application criteria so all your potential tenants will know what’s needed in order to get approved for a rental home. Then, as you are screening tenants, make sure you hold everyone to the same standards, and make sure you screen each application the same way. This is the best way to protect yourself against any allegations of housing discrimination. You’ll be able to demonstrate that you have a documented procedure, and you follow it for each application.
We have a four-part procedure for all of our applicants. We follow it for everyone so there is no danger of unintentional redlining. If you have any questions about fair housing and housing discrimination, please contact us at MSB Property Management. We’d be happy to tell you more about this effective four-part procedure.