Zodiac Housing Discrimination is More Common Than You Think

In this industry, we’re always trying to figure out more about our renters. From analyzing the next generation of renters, to connecting with applicants on the latest social media platforms, to investing in AI, we’re constantly looking for new ways to attract the best residents to our properties. But when does the desire to know more and find the perfect renter cross the line?

If you’re looking to the horizon for your final rental decision, you’ve gone a little too far.

In this industry, we’re always trying to figure out more about our renters. From analyzing the next generation of renters, to connecting with applicants on the latest social media platforms, to investing in AI, we’re constantly looking for new ways to attract the best residents to our properties. But when does the desire to know more and find the perfect renter cross the line?

If you’re looking to the horizon for your final rental decision, you’ve gone a little too far.

Denying Certain Zodiac Signs

Asking what your applicant’s birthday is on the application is often harmless. Most of the time, it’s included so that property managers can send the resident a birthday card or so the property can have just a little more information to verify the person’s identity. Unfortunately, not everyone uses this information in these ways.

starry image of a zodiac calendar
starry image of a zodiac calendar

Denying Certain Zodiac Signs

Asking what your applicant’s birthday is on the application is often harmless. Most of the time, it’s included so that property managers can send the resident a birthday card or so the property can have just a little more information to verify the person’s identity. Unfortunately, not everyone uses this information in these ways.

Some roommates and independent landlords choose to look to the stars when deciding renter compatibility. They do this by looking up their applicant’s zodiac sign or simply asking for it on the application. While satisfying your curiosity is fine (who wouldn’t want to know what it’s like to live with every zodiac sign), denying an applicant on the basis of their sign raises some eyebrows.

It’s also unusually prevalent. Last year, The Guardian reported that a New York applicant was denied to be another resident’s roommate because their zodiac sign was Capricorn. In an article by Mashable, a roommate applicant was similarly turned down because they were a Pisces. On the opposite side of the country, a YouTube influencer complained during her Los Angeles apartment hunt that one property required her to include her zodiac sign on application to be pre-approved.

Some roommates and independent landlords choose to look to the stars when deciding renter compatibility. They do this by looking up their applicant’s zodiac sign or simply asking for it on the application. While satisfying your curiosity is fine (who wouldn’t want to know what it’s like to live with every zodiac sign), denying an applicant on the basis of their sign raises some eyebrows.

It’s also unusually prevalent. Last year, The Guardian reported that a New York applicant was denied to be another resident’s roommate because their zodiac sign was Capricorn. In an article by Mashable, a roommate applicant was similarly turned down because they were a Pisces. On the opposite side of the country, a YouTube influencer complained during her Los Angeles apartment hunt that one property required her to include her zodiac sign on application to be pre-approved.

Is It Legal?

Although many have claimed that this is clearly housing discrimination, it’s unclear if it’s discrimination by law. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability, and making a claim that it’s religious discrimination is iffy. However, if your state has additional laws, it could still be classified as discrimination. For example, in California, you are prohibited from discriminating based on age and arbitrary characteristics, and zodiac signs could potentially fall under these classes.

Is It Legal?

Although many have claimed that this is clearly housing discrimination, it’s unclear if it’s discrimination by law. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability, and making a claim that it’s religious discrimination is iffy. However, if your state has additional laws, it could still be classified as discrimination. For example, in California, you are prohibited from discriminating based on age and arbitrary characteristics, and zodiac signs could potentially fall under these classes.

Regardless of whether you’re legally able to deny an applicant based on their zodiac sign, it’s best if you didn’t. No one wants to be the prime example for a discrimination lawsuit – and if word gets out (like from a social media influencer), your reputation as a legitimate business could be tarnished.

While some might cross-reference birth charts to determine if a Scorpio and a Gemini could cause property damage in the future, stick to objective, industry-approved data. If you’re screening rental applicants, avoid wishing on stars by using a reputable resident screening service. If you’re worried your staff might accidentally cross the Fair Housing line, consider using rental recommendations to automatically reinforce your rental standards with your screening.

Spill the Tea! What’s the an Applicant has Been Denied?

Regardless of whether you’re legally able to deny an applicant based on their zodiac sign, it’s best if you didn’t. No one wants to be the prime example for a discrimination lawsuit – and if word gets out (like from a social media influencer), your reputation as a legitimate business could be tarnished.

While some might cross-reference birth charts to determine if a Scorpio and a Gemini could cause property damage in the future, stick to objective, industry-approved data. If you’re screening rental applicants, avoid wishing on stars by using a reputable resident screening service. If you’re worried your staff might accidentally cross the Fair Housing line, consider using rental recommendations to automatically reinforce your rental standards with your screening.

Spill the Tea! What’s the an Applicant has Been Denied?

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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