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What you don’t know about Fair Housing can hurt you…

According to the HUD “Fair Housing” is defined in the following manner:

“Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18  living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and disability.”

DID YOU KNOW?

The Fair Housing Act (Federal) makes it illegal to discriminate in any type of housing related transaction on the basis of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Familial Status (the presence of children under the age of 18 in the household)

In CALIFORNIA you can add

  • Sexual Orientation
  • Marital Status
  • Ancestry
  • Source of income
  • Disability

There is a SECTION of the Fair Housing act (804(C)) that addresses advertising guidelines: It would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act Section 804 (c) to print or publish a discriminatory preference based on any of the protected classes.  A statement that the rental property is in a “family neighborhood” would be considered discriminatory advertising.

There are Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act provided that SECTION 804(c) rules are not violated.

  • If a dwelling has four or less units and the owner lives in one of the units and does not use the services of a real estate agent they may be eligible for an exemption.
  • Qualifies senior housing is exempt from rules pertaining to the presence of children under the age of 18 in the household
  • Housing run by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy solely to members, as long as the organization does not discriminate based on race.

Penalties for failing to comply with Fair Housing rules:

  • Fair Housing Claims can be filed with HUD for up to one year from the date of the incident.
  • In addition suit can be filed in Federal Court for up to two years from the date of the incident.
  • HUD will investigate for “reasonableness” of claims.  If there is no reasonable cause then HUD dismisses the complaint.
  • HUD files charges if their investigation finds evidence of discriminatory practices.
  • I you end up in Federal Courd the US Department of Justice will pursue the case (not the claimant)
  • If a HUD Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hears the case a landlord in violation can face $16,000 -$65,000 and if the Justice Department is hearing the case in Federal Court civil penalties of up to $100,000 may be imposed.  In addition to civil penalties the federal court may award punitive damages and of course…there are the attorney’s fees.

A Landlord is required make a reasonable effort to accommodate a tenant with a disability in order to comply with Fair Housing provided that the accommodation does not cause and undue financial and or administrative burden to the housing provider, does not cause a basic change in the nature of the housing program available and does not cause harm or damage to others.

A landlord must allow the tenant to make changes to the property in order to accommodate a disability at the tenant’s expense

Service and or Companion Animals prescribed by or recognized by a medical professional are an accommodation not a pet and must be allowed even in a NO PETS property. And you may not charge additional security deposit, or additional rent.

A Property Manager, as a Licensed Real Estate professional, has a legal, moral and ethical obligation to comply with the Fair Housing Act.  At Real Property Management we do this by:

  • Posting the Fair Housing Poster in a clearly visible location and using the equal opportunity logo and statements tells tenants and prospective tenants that we are aware of and support Fair Housing practices.
  • We write our advertisements focused on the features of the property without using language or incentive that could be construed to favor a specific group or limit access by a protected class of people.
  • We provide all prospective tenants with complete lists of rental houses and access to all of our listings via internet to ensure that all prospects have the same access to information.
  • We use a standard set of criteria to evaluate candidates for tenancy.  These criteria are FINANCIAL in nature and take into account ability to pay, history of financial responsibility, history of successful rental history.  

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