Whether you are a property management tycoon or simply looking to lease out your home, fair housing is an important aspect to consider during your marketing campaign. As you begin to promote your property, you may hear the term “fair-housing” being thrown around; but, do you completely understand the extent to which it affects you? So before you throw that ad on Craigslist or deny a prospective resident, read over this blog to ensure that you are abiding by the Fair Housing Act.
What Exactly is Fair Housing?
Fair Housing is an act that prohibits discrimination by landlords, real estate companies, and other housing providers to ensure that every person has equal opportunity to a safe and livable home regardless or race or color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. If a prospective resident feels they were discriminated against by you or your company, they can institute criminal proceedings. Now, you may never purposely discriminate but, keep reading because sometimes, simple phrasing on ads or even images used could potentially lead to a fair housing complaint.
Remember – when marketing your housing community, describe the property, not the people.
Obvious Fair Housing Violations
Many property management companies train their employees to ensure they are abiding by this important act. But sometimes, landlords, or those who are newer to the industry, can violate this act during their marketing campaigns. For example, if you are personally leasing out your home but plan to potentially move back in further down the line, you may be a little picky as to who you lease to; so, you advertise the property as “Bachelor Pad Perfect For Singles” as to ensure that a big family does not move in. Or, maybe you live in the building and are leasing the apartment above you and don’t want to hear children running around, so, you advertise the property as “No Children Allowed”. Both of these scenarios are obvious violations due to the fact that they discriminate against familial status. But, sometimes violations are not as cut and dry.
Less Obvious Violations
Now, let’s say you are looking for a new way to advertise your property, so you start to consider local landmarks that residents may be interested in, and realize there is a Catholic church close by. You then proceed to advertise the property as “1 Bedroom Apartment Within Walking Distance of Church” in hopes of giving some insight about the location. Believe it or not, this could be considered a violation of the Fair Housing Act for two different reasons. If a prospective resident of differing religious beliefs applied and you denied them, they could build a case that you discriminated against them due to their religion. Furthermore, someone with a physical disability may not be able to walk to said location.
Next, let’s consider you are leasing out a home in what you know to be a quieter community with little night life. Perhaps you think that this environment would be great for the elderly, so you advertise it as “Perfect for Elderly Couples”; this could be considered discriminatory against young, singles. Even though you would have leased to anyone whose application got approved, someone who got denied could make a case that they were discriminated against, and use that ad as evidence, regardless of your intentions.
Now that you know a little more about the Fair Housing Act, be sure to implement it into your marketing plan. Or, enlist the services of a marketing agency that is aware of the intricacies of this act and can implement it into the marketing for you.