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Tip #58: Watch What You Say

A landlord in New York was just fined $1,000 for an Internet rental ad. He stated that his property was located in a “nice Irish neighborhood.”

online rental ads

After reading this ad in Craigslist, the local housing authority triggered a secret investigation. They sent in “testers” – employees who posed as applicants in order to record the conversation with the landlord. They then referred the case to HUD.

Here, the landlord used prohibited language to entice renters to the area, rather than exclude them. But, that doesn’t change the fact that the Fair Housing Act as well as a number of state civil rights laws prohibit preferential, as well as discriminatory language in rental ads. It also demonstrates that you can be exclusionary without actually saying it.

Remember that applicants are not the only ones reading rental ads. As Craiglist has gained in popularity, it has also become common fodder for Fair Housing prosecutions.

Next vacancy, stick to a list of your property’s physical characteristics. Don’t try to determine ahead of time which applicants will be interested.

See a related feature, Landlord Slapped With Fine for “No Section 8” Ad.

See last weeks Landlord Quick Tip.

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