Fair housing, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, are laws protecting people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities.
What does it mean for your rental property? It means you must treat every tenant and every potential tenant consistently. You cannot make decisions about who you will approve for your property or how you will establish rent and lease requirements based on preferences for certain cultures, colors, and religions.
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to remaining in compliance with fair housing laws while renting out an Orlando property.
Fair Housing and Protected Classes
All fair housing laws in the United States stem from the federal Fair Housing Act, which establishes protected classes of tenants who have historically suffered from discrimination and unfair rental practices. The laws prevent you from discriminating against tenants or applicants based on:
- Familial status
- National origin
It’s unlikely that you will intentionally discriminate against someone for any of these reasons, but mistakes are easy to make. Be cautious, and always work with an Orlando property manager if you’re in doubt about how you should proceed with an application, a lease renewal, or any other sensitive situation.
Marketing Your Orlando Rental Property Fairly
Compliance begins with the way you market your property. Think about language when you’re advertising, and don’t set yourself up for a complaint or a claim. It may not seem like a big deal if you mention in your listing that your property isn’t great for kids, but that could be seen as discriminatory against families. Mentioning that your property is close to a particular house of worship can also be problematic.
Focus on the property itself and talk about the benefits and details that all tenants might enjoy. Don’t make assumptions about what sort of tenant might be a good match for the Orlando rental home you’re listing.
Fair Housing Laws and Tenant Screening
By establishing a set of qualifying rental criteria, you can protect yourself and your applicants. It’s essential that you screen every application the same way. Each prospective tenant must be held to the same standards.
Documenting your criteria and providing it to every applicant before they complete your screening process and pay an application fee will help set expectations. By looking at what you require in order for an application to be approved, a tenant can decide whether they have a good chance of being accepted.
Service and Support Animals in Orlando Rental Homes
Property owners are free to decide whether they’re going to allow pets or not allow pets in an Orlando rental property. Service and support animals, however, are a fair housing issue. You must allow them for tenants who require them, even if you have a strict no-pet policy.
Fair housing laws do not consider those animals to be pets. They are, instead, accommodations. You are required to provide accommodations to tenants who need them because of a physical, mental, or intellectual disability. You also cannot charge a pet fee or pet rent. You can’t restrict the dog breed, size, or age.
For help with any fair housing questions or Orlando property management issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Park Avenue Property Management.