Avoid Fair Housing Disputes
Guidelines to keep in mind to help you avoid Fair Housing complaints and lawsuits:
Check references, income, and credit. Many landlords simply make it policy to require credit reports for each and every tenant, no matter the circumstance. It is easy to run a credit check or a criminal background check for a minimal feel. Also, you should verify the applicant’s employment, income and bank account information as well as take the time to call their references, especially previous landlords.
Make decisions based on business reasons. Although you are entitled to reject applicants based on poor credit histories or unstable incomes, do not make the mistake of making your tenant choices based on personal reasons.
Understand the Fair Housing laws. The Federal Fair Housing Acts (42 U.S. Code §§3601-3619, 3631) specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status, physical or mental disability (including people recovering from addictions).
Train your staff to respect these rules. Property owners, managers, real estate agents, and all of their employees must also follow Fair Housing laws or the owner may be held liable for an employee’s discriminatory statement or conduct.
Be consistent. This is crucial when dealing with prospective tenants. If you arbitrarily set tougher standards for some and not others you are opening yourself up to lawsuits. Same goes for cutting someone a break and not others.
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