Tip of the Month - February, 2021


Sources: Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner, J.D.
Attorney Janet Portman

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws limit what you can say and do in the tenant selection process.  Basically, you need to keep in mind three important points.

1-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 people for the following reasons:
*poor credit history
*Income that you reasonably regard as insufficient to pay the  
*negative references from previous landlords indicating problems---such as property damage or consistently late rent payments---that make someone a bad risk
*convictions for criminal offences
*inability to meet the legal terms of a lease or rental agreement, such as someone who cannot come up with the security deposit or who want to keep a pet and your policy is no pets
*more people than you want to live in the unit---assuming that your limit on the number of tenants is clearly tied to health and safety or legitimate business needs.

Anti-discrimination laws specify clearly illegal reasons to refuse to rent to a tenant. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status (pregnancy or children), and physical or mental disability (including recovering alcoholics and people with a past drug addition). Many states and cities also prohibit discrimination based on marital status, source of income, military status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

This web page was updated on 01/30/2021.