Tip of the Month - April, 2017
Avoiding Fair Housing Complaints and Lawsuits
Source: Landlord’s Legal Guide-Nolo.com
You are legally free to
choose among prospective tenants as long as your decisions are based on
legitimate business criteria. You are entitled to reject
applicants with bad credit histories, income that you reasonable regard
as insufficient to pay the rent, or past behavior….such as property
damage or consistent late rent payments….that makes someone a bad
risk. A valid occupancy limit that is clearly tied to health and
safety or legitimate business needs can also be a legal basis for
refusing tenants. It goes without saying that you may legally refuse to
rent to someone who cannot come up with the security deposit or meet
some other condition of the tenancy.
Fair Housing laws specify clearly illegal reasons to
refuse to rent to a tenant. Federal law prohibits discrimination
on the basis of: race, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial
status, or physical or mental disability (including recovering
alcoholics and people with a past drug addiction). Many states
and cities also prohibit discrimination based on marital status or
Anybody who deals with prospective tenants must follow
Fair Housing laws. This includes owners, landlords, managers, and
real estate agents, and all of their employees. As the property
owner, you may be held legally responsible for your employees
discriminatory statements or conduct, including sexual harassment.
Consistency is crucial when dealing with prospective
tenants. If you do not treat all tenants more or less
equally….for example, if you arbitrarily set tougher standards for
renting to a member of a racial minority…you are violating federal laws.
This web page was updated on 03/29/2017.