Fair Housing in the United States
The month of April in 2013 was the month the government dedicated to spread awareness about the Fair Housing Act and fair housing in general. It is essential for property managers to have a clear and complete understanding of legislation related for fair housing to make certain that the tenant selection process they employ is fair, and avoids unnecessary and unwarranted lawsuits. Choosing the right tenant is necessary to attract responsible people who respect the property which is their temporary home. But the choice of the right tenant has also to be carefully balanced to comply with state, federal, and local discrimination laws.
Protecting Yourself and Your Cordial Residents
A complete understanding of fair housing enactments – state and federal –is critical regardless of whether you are part of a sizeable property management company or a lone operator taking care of just a handful of rental properties single-handedly. Discrimination where property is concerned can have nasty consequences which can result in significant financial loss and the respect of the community if you wrongly refuse housing to someone. If that person does not pass a background check or appears to be a gangster or a thug, that is another matter though. If you cannot properly judge who is a thug or not you should not be working for this related government agency or a rental property company.
The genesis of current housing legislation began with the Fair Housing Act of 1968 a federal enactment which forbade discrimination on grounds of color, race, national origin, and religion. The law was subsequently amended to include discrimination on grounds of sex, disabilities and families with children. With the amendments came stricter penalties for violations.
This legislation covered real estate practices like pre-sale advertising, the terms of sale or a rental agreement, and refusal of housing for whatever reason.
Not Condoned at All
Property owners face severe consequences for discrimination. If a tenant believes there has been discrimination in the rental or buying process he/she can register a complaint with the local department of human rights and may also consult an attorney. Tenants are also protected by tenant advocacy groups and the last thing a property manager or owner needs is to be cited for perceived discrimination in a lawsuit.
Here are some points on discrimination and fair housing which property managers would do well to observe.
Treat all prospective tenants uniformly. Keep a high standard of communication by observing a polite and respectful tone at all times and have a standard list of questions for all. A respectful tone and consistency ensures unintentional discrimination or any situation which could remotely be alleged as unlawful.
Offer the same level of accommodation to all. This way no one tenant can accuse you of inconsistency or favoritism or having withheld advantages which were offered to others.
Stay clear of stereotypes or preconceived notions. Keep alert for warning signs but otherwise give the benefit of doubt to tenants. Do not entertain pre-conceived notions about a tenant because of race, nationality, or religion either at the screening process or after occupation.
Stay on top of state laws to ensure that you have a complete knowledge of local legislation to protect you from uninvited legal action. If you are not up-to-date on the latest enactments and local laws, take the trouble to educate yourself. It’s well worth the effort.
A Company Comprised with Kindness
Talley Properties of Charlotte NC is one of the oldest property management companies in the Charlotte region. It constantly keeps itself informed of changes in local laws and so keeps out of legal quagmires. As a policy this company prides itself on running a real estate business with consistency, equality, and respect being the overriding attributes.