Tip #203: Steering You Wrong
When filling vacancies, it’s easy to get caught up in your eagerness to find a new tenant. But that’s what makes it easy to violate Fair Housing Laws.
Landlords are not allowed to steer rental applicants by coaxing someone into — or out of — a specific neighborhood or unit. Landlords cannot tell applicants that the place is a good or bad fit for them based on perceptions of racial, religious or other status.
Steering can happen when an applicant simply begins to ask questions. Statements like “this would be good for you” can constitute rental housing discrimination. The impact may be to discourage certain tenants from applying for certain units, and that’s against the law.
Don’t volunteer information or answer questions from applicants (or housing testers posing as applicants) that would have the effect of steering someone into or out of that community unless the same criteria apply to every tenant.
The better option is to invite them to get that information directly from the local school, church, business, or government office.
HUD recently clarified its rules concerning discrimination. A rental policy is discriminatory if it actually or predictably results in a disparate impact on a group of persons, or creates, increases, reinforces, or perpetuates segregated housing patterns because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
See last week’s Landlord Quick Tip.
American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.