It’s the Law…but also our Professional Pride
Two large apartment communities last year were found asking rental prospects if they were pregnant. If the answer was yes, the onsite staff then required an ultrasound and a doctor’s note. Fair housing advocacy group testers shopping these properties were also given rental criteria by the staff asking to show a social security card. They warned applicants with arrests would be denied regardless of a conviction. Yikes!
It is as illegal to ask a prospect if she is pregnant as it is to ask if she/he is Asian, Baptist, or German according to the Fair Housing Act. These are all protected classes and cannot be a basis for making a decision to lease to someone. HUD has also made clear that an arrest with no conviction cannot be used to deny an application to rent.
Though Fair Housing violations like this are rare, they do get lots of press and create a negative feeling by renters toward so-called “landlords.” The apartment industry is proud of its effort to provide excellent housing to millions of renters in the United States. It is unfortunate when a few errors by multifamily operators can tarnish the entire industry.
Remember the 7 protected classes of the national Fair Housing Act:
- Religion or Creed
- Sex or Gender
- Family Status or Make-up
- Handicap or Disability
In this case, the Florida properties are managed by a reputable and experienced management company that certainly trains its onsite team members to adhere to all fair housing laws. So how could an onsite team practice and enforce such unauthorized leasing criteria? It is possible some members of the team were not trained. Or perhaps they were given “marching orders” to use this discriminatory rental criterion. Regardless, the error will cause bad feelings and negative press for the management company, owner, and the Residents. It may also result in a sizable fine and punitive damages for all offending parties.
The apartment industry overall follows the Fair Housing Act and celebrates the spirit of fair housing. All Americans deserve a fair opportunity to live wherever they choose. Make a point to ensure you and your teams are Fair Housing trained and Fair Housing friendly.
Here are two great options for training:
- Edge2Learn – Superb online Fair Housing training in easy to digest snippets
- Live Training by Rick Ellis, CAM, CPM – Public Fair Housing seminars monthly in the DFW area. Private Fair Housing Seminars (anywhere) for your company
Fair Housing is FAIR! Know the law and don’t make mistakes that can hurt everyone!