Fair Housing Law: What You Need to Know

If you’re working in the rental housing industry, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). While you may think that it’s just a piece of legislation that prevents bias of the seven protected classes (race, color, religion, disability, sex, familial class, and national origin), there’s much more to it than that. As a member of the rental housing industry, you need to actively work to be fair housing compliant.

It’s never a bad idea to have procedures in place for staying on the right side of the Fair Housing Act. A person can never be too cautious, especially when it comes to avoiding discrimination. Here are some things to consider when working to be Fair Housing compliant.

  1. A Code of Ethics
    You’ve probably got an established code of ethics that includes having non-discriminatory standards. But can this code be improved? Take a look at it and make sure that it’s up-to-date. Should legislation change, you want to make sure that your code reflects those changes. Also consider the language you use. Do you mention the seven protected classes? Simple things like this can make all the difference.
  2. The Punishment Fits the Crime
    As with all things, the threat of punishment can be incentive to follow the rules. Should you be found violating the Fair Housing Act, you can find yourself being fined as much as $100,000. On top of that, you are responsible for legal fees, as well as any damage caused to the tenant or applicant. But the penalties go beyond just legal repercussions. Consider the damage that could be done to your reputation should you violate the FHA, and how that could affect the future of your career.
  3. Treat Applicants with Care
    It’s important to treat all applicants equally in order to avoid any accusations of discrimination. Judge all applicants by the same criteria, and ensure that you have that criteria documented somewhere. In some instances, certain agencies have even sent applicants to look at properties specifically to see if the Fair Housing Act is being followed, so always work to be as fair to everyone as possible. You can take different steps to be FHA compliant; trust tenant screening to help you separate the good applicants from the bad, and be sure to have a written set of standards.

The Fair Housing Act is something you hear about quite frequently and probably keep in the back of your mind, but it’s of the utmost importance that you actively work to be FHA compliant. Not only are there consequences for not adhering to the act, but discriminating against the seven protected classes goes against a code of ethics that many operate by. Make sure to stay up-to-date on legislation that may affect this act, and actively work to treat all applicants and tenants equally.

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