Fair Housing: What You Need To Know As An Owner
In Idaho, if you own two or more properties that you make available to rent, you are subject to the laws of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is part of the Civil Rights Act designed to prohibit discrimination in housing. This Federal legislation created seven protected classes; some states and local municipalities include additional protected classes. Awareness of and adherence to the Fair Housing Act is critical for any individual involved in any area of the housing industry—home construction, real estate, and property management, to name a few.
THE SEVEN PROTECTED CLASSES
According to the Federal Fair Housing Act the seven protected classes are:
This means that no one can discriminate or change, in any way, the process of advertising, marketing, application, or approval for any interested individual based on any of these criteria. Some of the protected classes are easy to understand; others, like familial and disability status are more complex and include aspects that may not be intuitive or evident.
THE FINE PRINT
Familial status relates to the family unit and any discrimination against or favor for an individual or couple based on their choice to have children. Therefore, there is not legally a way to create a “singles” community, “adults only” community, or “family-friendly” communities. Likewise, any signs or rules must be applicable to all tenants; there cannot be any signs targeting children’s behavior or prohibiting access based on age (with the exception of 55+ or 62+ communities).
What this means for you: if you, as an owner, prefer to have renters that are in the same age demographic, or have a better history with single adult professionals, there is nothing that you or your property manager can legally do to guarantee your preferred renters as tenants. Neither you nor your property manager can create or include any additional demands in the lease for “less preferable tenants.” Your properties have to be available to everyone equally.
Disability status relates to an impairment that an individual may have that affects their daily life and activities. Disabilities include both physical and emotional impairment, and require that any “reasonable modification” request be fulfilled. It is unlawful for anyone in the housing industry to inquire as to what type or severity of a disability—not even in effort to introduce or suggest an available option that the industry person thinks would be helpful (that is called “steering” and is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act). The issue that comes up frequently and falls under the disability status is the allowance of an animal on the property. For those with emotional and other disabilities, a support or companion animal is considered a “reasonable modification” and must be permitted regardless of size, type, or breed of animal.
What this means for you: even if you are adamant about a no-pet policy for your properties, neither you nor your property manager can deny an individual housing because they have a service or companion animal. Service and companion animals are not considered a “pet,’” but a reasonable modification to accommodate a disability. As such, they must be allowed and any pet fee or pet rent will not apply to the tenant. There is nothing that you or your property manager can legally do, other than require a proof of need for their animal, to keep any such individual from renting your property.
FAIR HOUSING REQUIREMENTS
As a landlord, you and your property manager must ensure that all aspects of the rental process align with the fair housing act—
application and approval process,
even maintenance (availability of making a maintenance request and the system for answering service calls).
If any person in the industry—from advertising, leasing, maintenance, or sale—does not abide by the Fair Housing Act, severe fines that threaten the health and lifespan of the business can be incurred.
In order to maintain the health and longevity of our company, we are committed to abide by the principles and practices set forth in the Fair Housing Act. To ensure that no bias is involved in the leasing process, applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis; service and companion animals are always welcome.
PRESTIGE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT WORKS FOR ALL
As a property management company, we are invested in the care of your property. We want your experience as a property owner and your choice to provide housing to the public to be enjoyable and financially beneficial. To ensure your interests, we require the verification of an applicant’s creditworthiness, employment and income, and rental history for approval. You can see the rental requirements here. You can rest assured knowing that our thorough application process will ensure that your property will be cared for and generate revenue for years to come.