Saturday, October 23, 2010

Everything you need to know about Fair Housing!

What is Equal Opportunity Housing/ Fair Housing?

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap or disability.

Fair Housing laws apply to the sale and/or lease of real property in the United States.

Who is subject to Fair Housing?

Contrary to popular belief, not every landlord is subject to Fair Housing Rules. All Real Estate Companies are subject to Fair Housing Laws, however, the homeowner who rents out his/her primary residence may not be subject to these laws.  Read below in regards to exceptions to the Fair Housing Laws

    (1) any single-family house sold or rented by an owner: Provided, That such private individual owner does not own more than three such single-family houses at any one time: Provided further, That in the case of the sale of any such single-family house by a private individual owner not residing in such house at the time of such sale or who was not the most recent resident of such house prior to such sale, the exemption granted by this subsection shall apply only with respect to one such sale within any twenty-four month period: Provided further, That such bona fide private individual owner does not own any interest in, nor is there owned or reserved on his behalf, under any express or voluntary agreement, title to or any right to all or a portion of the proceeds from the sale or rental of, more than three such single-family houses at any one time: Provided further, That after December 31, 1969, the sale or rental of any such single-family house shall be excepted from the application of this subchapter only if such house is sold or rented (A) without the use in any manner of the sales or rental facilities or the sales or rental services of any real estate broker, agent, or salesman, or of such facilities or services of any person in the business of selling or renting dwellings, or of any employee or agent of any such broker, agent, salesman, or person and (B) without the publication, posting or mailing, after notice, of any advertisement or written notice in violation of section 804(c) of this title; but nothing in this proviso shall prohibit the use of attorneys, escrow agents, abstractors, title companies, and other such professional assistance as necessary to perfect or transfer the title, or (2)rooms or units in dwellings containing living quarters occupied or intended to be occupied by no more than four families living independently of each other, if the owner actually maintains and occupies one of such living quarters as his residence.
(c)For the purposes of subsection (b) of this section, a person shall be deemed to be in the business of selling or renting dwellings if--

    (1) he has, within the preceding twelve months, participated as principal in three or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any dwelling or any interest therein, or (2) he has, within the preceding twelve months, participated as agent, other than in the sale of his own personal residence in providing sales or rental facilities or sales or rental services in two or more transactions involving the sale or rental of any dwelling or any interest therein, or (3) he is the owner of any dwelling designed or intended for occupancy by, or occupied by, five or more families.
How to File A Fair Housing Complaint:

You can call toll-free 1 (800) 669-9777. or visit this website to file online.

How to Avoid a Fair Housing Complaint:

Avoiding Fair Housing complaints and discrimination lawsuits is a goal of every landlord, but with so many regulations to follow, it can seem like it's only a matter of time before you inadvertently get into trouble.

There is one thing that can make Fair Housing regulations easier to tame - consistency.

Having proof in your files that you treat every applicant the same will go a long way in defending a claim of discrimination.

Here are some examples:
1. Advertise in generally accessible media - newspapers and Internet; not private clubs or publications that might not be available to everyone.

2. Use the same application form for each applicant. Don't rent to anyone who has not filled it out completely.

3. Give a copy of your rental requirements to each tenant upon time of application.  Include a disclaimer that you are an Equal Opportunity Housing Partner and do not discriminate.

4. Ask the same verbal questions in each interview. Use a script or intake form and jot down notes of answers to show what information was objectionable when turning an applicant away. Avoid any references to personal characteristics.

5. Run the same screening reports on every applicant. This may include local and or state background checks, credit checks, sex offender screening, employment verification and rental reference.  Whatever you choose, choose the same screening process every time and notify the prospective tenants of your screening process.

6. Establish bona fide reasons for rejecting applications, and never accept other applicants who violate those same rules.

7. Use the Fair Housing logo on any of your advertisements about the property.

Important and Useful Links:

HUD Advertising Guidelines

Realty Masters of FL is an Equal Opportunity Housing Partner!
All applicants and clients are treated the same and our company does not discriminate on the basis of race or color, age, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.   

For more information in regards to Fair Housing, please visits HUD's website as well as the Civil Rights Division.

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