Enactment of fair housing laws was aimed to protect underrepresented groups from discriminative practices in purchasing or renting a house. It is important for Gastonia property management to know these laws, since violations could translate into huge liability and damage to the reputation of the property. Discrimination complaints and lawsuits are on the rise, and a property manager should pay special attention to the following aspects to avoid liability.
Tenant Screening Practices
Most complaints arise from the tenant screening process. The point is to subject every prospect to the same screening process. To ensure that it is seen as a universal requirement, post a written policy of the criteria required for renting the unit. This could include income, employment history, credit history, and so on. Property management should also reveal the steps involved in the whole application process, and that fair housing laws are being adhered to strictly.
Do not include questions about ethnicity, race, age, or disabilities in the application. However, you may inquire about bankruptcy filings, money judgments, and prior evictions. You may also ask the reason why the prospect is changing to a new accommodation.
You cannot advertise about the type of tenant you are looking for. For instance, even mentioning phrases like “excellent for younger people” could be considered discriminatory by older people. Words that suggest exclusivity should be avoided, as you are posing a restriction on choosing tenants. All ads should also carry a statement confirming non-discriminatory practices or the logo of fair housing.
Transparent Eviction Process
According to laws of fair housing, tenants can only be evicted for legitimate reasons such destruction of property, not paying rent and so on. If you are initiating eviction process, for any other reason make sure the tenant has seriously violated the lease agreement or you have evicted many other tenants in the past for same reasons. If the tenant is causing disturbance or troubling other tenants, keep a record of every written complaint, and steps taken by property manager. Usually, authorities will examine the following documents, if there is a complaint of wrongful eviction:
- §Eviction notice/s
- §Warning letters
- §Police records
- §Photographs or video evidence
- §Written records
Property management staff, especially new employees should undergo training regarding policies, and how to comply with fair housing laws. The employee should also be made aware of the consequences of law violations. There should be a documented policy about all forms of harassment and discrimination, and each employee should be given a printed copy of such policies. The employee should also be made to sign agreement that states termination of employment in case of fair housing law violation.
Consistency in Rules
Gastonia property management can frame mandatory rules for tenants, as long as they are not discriminatory and do not violate any terms of the lease agreement. Each tenant should be given a written copy of such rules, and they should be enforced uniformly. When rules are violated, detailed records should be maintained about the type, date, and time of violation, and the actions taken for enforcing the rule.