State and local governments often have their own fair housing laws and anti-discrimination regulations. However, all of those mandates come from the federal Fair Housing Act. It’s important that you understand what this law entails and what it means to landlords like you.
Today, we’re talking about federal fair housing laws and how they impact you as a rental property owner.
Federal Fair Housing and Protected Classes
We all know we cannot discriminate against tenants and prospective tenants based on the seven protected classes. Those protected classes are race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, and national origin. As a rental owner, you have to understand those protected classes and not do even subtle things that might put you in a position where you are accused of discriminating. Pay attention to your marketing materials, your screening process, and your policies and procedures. Everything must be documented and consistent so you cannot be accused of discrimination.
Fair Housing Example: Familial Status
Let’s say you have a rental property, and there’s a pond in the backyard. In South Carolina, we know that we have alligators living in ponds. Certainly, none of us would want a small child to run into an alligator while playing in the backyard. However, because of federal fair housing laws, you cannot say that you won’t rent the house to a family with young children because of the potential alligator risk. Familial status is one of the protected fair housing classes. You cannot prohibit families from living there. It’s discrimination.
This is just one example of how landlords and property owners can violate federal fair housing laws without meaning to. If you were that landlord, your good intentions could be turned into something else when it comes to hesitating about renting to a family with small children.
Professional Property Management and Fair Housing
One way to protect yourself from the risk of violating fair housing laws is by putting an expert property manager to work for you. It’s difficult to devote the time and energy that’s required to learning the current laws and keeping up to date with the changes in these laws. But, this is our job, and we take classes and seminars on topics like fair housing all the time. We understand what’s required and how to keep you out of trouble. Compliance is critical. We know that, and we make it a priority.
There are a lot of details in the federal fair housing laws. We get a lot of training on these laws, and we understand them in ways that many individual landlords cannot. We work hard to make sure we follow those laws every day, and that keeps property owners like you out of trouble in the long run.
When it comes to Charleston property management, we would love to be a resource for you. If we can answer any questions you might have about fair housing or property management, please contact us at New Heights Property Management. We’d be happy to tell you more.