Understanding Fair Housing Laws: Preventing Discrimination as a Landlord

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If you’re a homeowner thinking about renting out your property, there are things to be aware of so that you can be sure you’re following the laws of the land, so to speak. It’s hugely important to learn what you can about fair housing laws to be sure you avoid any type of discrimination when renting out your property. Here are some things to think about: 

Screen tenants, but don’t discriminate

As you search for your tenant, you may want to use tenant screening reports to check out potential tenants, as it’s important to protect your property from damage or criminal activity. However, when looking into certain specifics concerning potential tenants, you’ll want to be careful with what information you use to determine whether or not you want them to live on your property

The last thing you want is to make your choice based on factors that have nothing to do with things like previous evictions, criminal histories, or sex offender reports. 

Things that are considered discrimination

While you may know by now what discrimination is in any form or area, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of it. If you want to be sure to avoid issues with renting out your property and becoming a landlord, you’ll want to remember that you can’t use any kind of excuse related to religion, race, color, married or single status, origin, sex, or disability. 

Fair housing laws were designed to protect people from issues that could stem from any kind of discrimination, so as a potential landlord, it’s key to pay attention to these laws and make sure you’re not harboring any bias when it comes to renting out your property

The things to look for

As you make sure not to make your decision on tenants based on any of the above things, which would be considered discrimination, think about what to look for. You want to ensure your tenants have the means to pay rent on time. Consider whether they have a track record of treating properties with care. Think about how many people will be living in your home and the duration of the lease term that you want. 

Be careful about the questions you ask

When considering potential tenants, it’s essential to be careful about a few things and the questions you may want to ask. For example, you may need to know how many people will be living in your home, but you don’t want to ask tenants about how many children they have, point blank. 

You don’t want to ask for a pet deposit for someone who has an assistance or service animal, and you’ll want to make sure you don’t provide information on local religious establishments, even if you think it’s a highlight. This could be considered discriminatory or biased by some. 

Consider making things easier for tenants

If you want to go the extra mile when it comes to FHA, consider redoing some areas of your property to make it easier for people with mobility disabilities or otherwise to live on your property. Whether this means creating a ramp into the entryway or other remodeling options, it’s a good idea to think about additions to your home that could appeal to more tenants and create a space where people with disabilities can feel comfortable. 

While many people may not consider these options because they want to maintain a specific curb appeal, you may find they could make your house more desirable on the rental market. 

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In Conclusion

As you think about renting out your property, it’s important to avoid discrimination and also make sure you’re following fair housing laws. Take time to get familiar with local laws and also practice common sense in how you approve of and look for tenants. Treat your potential tenants with respect, and never make a decision based on bias.