Celebrating 48 Years of Fair Housing – Unlocking Housing Opportunities for All

April 8, 2016
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Your apartment building community can be a source of opportunity for prospective tenants. This was not always the case prior to the 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act was crafted with the goal to eliminate housing discrimination and create equal opportunity for people of all races, religions, sexual orientation, familial status, disability status, etc has guided renting and selling practices for property owners, like you. As we reflect on the 48th year anniversary, property owners, like you, are responsible for providing safe housing for all qualified tenants. In celebration of Fair Housing Month, now may be the time to review your policies and procedures to ensure you are complying with fair housing regulations. Take these steps this month, and through the end of the year, and beyond to uphold fair housing principles:

  • Review the application and renting requirements and rules you have in place and determine if they are in fact really needed. Unnecessary requirements leave an opening for misinterpretation and they may add on additional steps for some applicants that could be deemed as unfair.
  • Analyze if each required rule or procedure is actually achieving its purpose. If it is not, consider eliminating the rule or revising it to better fit your intended goal.
  • Make a note of the goal of each rule or procedure and review this at least every 6 months. This documentation is important should a fair housing violation be filed against you. Having a thorough understanding of each step in the application process helps you to also communicate the reasons for each step to applicants, should they have questions or concerns.

There are some “slippery slope” issues that can create fair housing concerns. Take precautions when writing and implementing policies related to:

  • Children – there may be some cases where children are not permitted in certain parts of an apartment community. For example, in exercise facilities or in pool areas, without supervision. If you have rules that limit children be sure to have a well documented list of each rule and why it is needed. Aligning rules you have with city or county ordinances or regulations are a great way to justify your policies and procedures. When it comes to policies related to children, consider if you can broaden the restriction to apply to all residents regardless of age. For example, “no skateboarding” could and should be a rule that applies to all residents, regardless of their age. Making a rule more general than specific to children can help ensure you are not signalling out children or families with children.
  • Background checks – What is your policy with extending renting leases to convicted felons? If you have a similar policy in place, be sure to document why. For example, it may be for safety and liability reasons. You may want to provide more discretion than a flat blanket requirement. For example, Martha Stewart is a convicted felon, but would she pose a risk to your other residents or the greater community? You should look to specify what felony convictions may disqualify a potential tenant, i.e. sexual offenses, violent crimes, drug offenses, etc.

Having rules and procedures for your apartment community is a must. However, the rules and procedures you have in place must meet fair housing regulations. Unnecessary rules or requirements can directly or indirectly make it more difficult for people to live in your apartment community and could lead to a fair housing complaint. Take the time now to analyze your policies and revise them as necessary to be as inclusive as possible.

At Top Floor Insurance, we work with property owners to provide important information to make apartment communities great places to live. As insurance experts, we are well versed in reviewing insurance policies to ensure that your coverage is what you need, at a price that is affordable and competitive with the market. When you’re ready to review your insurance policy and learn more about how you can easily save up to 20% on your insurance premiums, contact us at 404-266-3218.