Did you know a tenant belonging to a minority group can file a discrimination lawsuit if you require a background check without their consent?
Equal housing rules protect people from discrimination when trying to obtain housing. Lawmakers instituted these standards to protect people based on sexual orientation, race, and gender. And if you're not careful, you could fall afoul of these standards.
It's important to screen your tenants, but you should be aware of what constitutes discrimination. In this guide, we'll discuss housing laws and housing rights.
What Counts as Housing Prejudice?
Housing discrimination has a long and troubling history in the United States. Minorities, typically blacks, found themselves trapped in poor neighborhoods, unable to escape. Zoning laws separated white from Black neighborhoods, and many of those neighborhood divisions still exist today.
Discrimination comes in many forms. As such, housing prejudice may not always be so obvious.
In essence, housing prejudice and discrimination mean any effort to deny housing to certain vulnerable or marginalized groups. Property management that denies a housing application based on anything from a disability to gender identity could suffer penalties. It doesn't matter if the decision was intentional or unintentional.
It's not just denying housing. If you charge more rent to a minority or make it more difficult for them to rent, that counts as discrimination.
Equal Housing Rules
The HUD (Housing and Urban Development) is responsible for investigating instances of discrimination in housing. This is a federal organization, but each state has its own housing commission. If you work with property management, it's your obligation to check out the statutes in your area to avoid trouble.
The Fair Housing Act came into law in 1968. In 1974, 1988, and 2021 amendments to the Fair Housing Act included other types of discrimination, such as against gender identity. That means that if you have a transgender or non-binary tenant, they could file charges if you deny them housing based on that characteristic.
Examples of Housing Prejudice and Discrimination
Clear-cut cases where a landlord denies someone based on their race or gender are rare. However, there are more subtle types of discrimination.
For example, a real estate agent takes a Black customer to majority Black neighborhoods. But they "steer" them away from majority white neighborhoods. This counts as discrimination.
Another example is when an immigrant comes to inquire about a house listing. Perhaps the landlord lies and says that someone has already rented the home. This also counts as a type of discrimination.
Other types of discrimination include restricting children from recreational areas. It includes failing to make accommodations for people with disabilities. Even sexual harassment can be a form of housing prejudice.
Know Equal Housing Rules
Equal housing rules exist to protect minorities and vulnerable groups from discrimination. They're a net good for our society, but if you don't know the law, you risk accidental discrimination. Know the Fair Housing Act and the laws specific to your area.
Property management is a challenge. Get in contact with the professionals when it comes to managing your property.