If you are a new landlord, it’s crucial to learn about the Fair Housing Act. Though it was established as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, it’s as relevant today as it was nearly 50 years ago. Established to eliminate discrimination against certain protected classes of people in the sale and rental of real estate, the law is extensive. Here’s a summary of what every landlord needs to know.
Purpose of the law. Although the law has changed over the years, the basics remain the same. It is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of real property with regard to a person’s race, color, religion, sex, handicap status, familial status or national origin. Created in an era when “Jim Crow” laws in southern states limited options for minorities, the Fair Housing Act was designed to open access to good housing for those in need. It was 1988 when “familial status,”meaning the presence or anticipation of children, was added along with coverage by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Operating with the law. Property owners may use only financial fitness and payment history to judge the eligibility of a buyer or rental applicant. Advertising and sale and lease agreements also must be free of discriminatory wording and may not be more restrictive for protected classes than others.
Property owners may not coerce or intimidate people of the protected classes nor do the same to persons or organizations assisting them in enjoying fair housing opportunities.
These same rules apply within the lending industry when someone is applying for a mortgage. They also apply to real estate agents.
Who administers the law and provides information. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administers the Fair Housing Act and all of its changes and additions acquired over the years. A useful publication for understanding the provisions of the Fair Housing Act can be found on the Department’s website.