As HUD is wrapping up Fair Housing Month, it is a good idea for landlords to review the most recent trends in fair housing prosecutions, and avoid some common mistakes landlords today are making.
Based on claims filed last year, here are the top 3 myths that landlords share regarding fair housing laws:
A landlord can enforce pet restrictions.
Not true when it comes to tenants with disabilities.
HUD is committed to pursuing landlords who refuse to allow prescribed companion animals for tenants with disabilities. A lack of knowledge regarding the companion animal rules contributed to many of these cases against landlords.
Landlords cannot apply their standard pet restrictions, such as type of pet, size, or weight in the case of a “companion” or “emotional support” animal. Further, a landlord can’t charge a pet deposit, make the tenant live in a different unit designated for pets, charge more rent, threaten to evict, or refuse to renew a lease because the tenant has a companion animal.
A landlord can rein in those noisy kids.
Landlords cannot limit where children can play. All common areas must be kid-friendly. Landlords cannot designate “kid-friendly” units or relegate families to a particular section of a building. Fines for noisy kids are troublesome, unless there is a standard noise policy enforced against every adult, too.
A landlord can avoid discrimination simply by telling some tenants “no vacancy”.
There were a number of fair housing complaints this year based solely on the landlord telling a prospect they suspected of being of a certain race or family status that there were no vacancies. The landlords were not speaking to rental applicants, but rather to testers posing as applicants.
When a tester is rejected, their counterpart with a different profile will call a few hours later and try to get a showing. If the landlord takes the bait, they face a charge of discrimination, which can result in fines, damages, payment of attorneys fees, and other remedial action like mandatory training.
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