All property owners want to find the right tenant for their property. Unfortunately, only accepting certain groups, including females, can cause legal problems for owners.
While screening new tenants is a must for any property owner, dismissing potential tenants because of protected characteristics could be considered discrimination and is against the law. Keep reading as our Atlanta property management experts look at the regulations in place and what you might want to include in a tenant screening.Overview of The Fair Housing Act
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race or color, national origin, religion, familial status or age (which includes children under the age of 18), and disability or handicap. When screening and selecting tenants, a property owner must follow these regulations to place residents and comply with anti-discriminatory practices legally.
However, a property manager knows that following the law involves more than the tenant screening process. According to the federal Fair Housing Acts, a landlord may not:
- comment or advertise in a way that there is a limitation or a preference based on any of the protected categories
- falsely claim that a rental house is unavailable (to avoid an applicant in a protected class)
- establish a stricter set of rules or regulations for a particular group of tenants
- end a lease agreement for discriminatory reasons
Landlords are allowed to legally refuse tenants based on some personal preferences—as long as these criteria are documented in the qualifications for the property and apply to every prospective tenant. For example, an owner can choose not to open their rental properties to smokers or people who have pets because they do not want to damage their property.
These rules are in place to keep discrimination from happening in the rental industry, including refusing to rent to men based on their gender.
Property Managers Comply With Anti-Discriminatory Practices
How can real estate investors avoid discriminatory practices? Work with a property management company! They know how to analyze potential tenants while avoiding selections based solely on the following criteria.
A property owner cannot deny someone a place to live based on being male or female. This means as much as you might love nice, clean, friendly, and excellent women renters, you can't choose your next tenant by excluding all male applicants.
Race, Religion, or National Origin
While cases of discrimination during renter management have been reduced since the inception of the Fair Housing Act, they still occur. Landlords are not permitted to turn away applicants based on the color of their skin or their race. Even words in advertisements such as "Christian community or home" can violate the law because an applicant might assume that only Christians are allowed as tenants.
Landlords are also not able to require proof of citizenship or immigration papers from a specific ethnicity but not others to help inform the tenant selection process.
The federal Fair Housing Acts ban landlords from discriminating against families with children. A landlord may not refuse a rental property to a tenant based on whether they have kids or are expecting a baby. Property managers can help you navigate questions you can and can't ask about familial status during the tenant screening process.
While the Fair Housing Act doesn't expressly prohibit discrimination based on age, it does fit under a broader view of discrimination. For example, a homeowner must apply conditions for rent eligibility to everyone regardless of age. To answer these questions about legal criteria involving the age of your residents, hire an Atlanta property management company to guide you and avoid mistakes!
Disabilities (Including Alcohol or Drug Addictions)
Property management companies can tell you that disability protections are for more than just those who might be considered physically handicapped. The regulation extends to those who might have hearing, mobility, and visual impairments. This also includes mental illness, intellectual disability, alcohol and drug addictions, or certain diseases. However, according to the law, this area can become challenging when screening and managing renters appropriately with disabilities.
Rental property owners can protect themselves by hiring a property management company in Atlanta, Georgia. Landlords can also reference online resources from HUD to learn more about best legal tenant management practices.
Hire a "Property Management Company Near Me" for Tenant Screening
Avoiding discrimination is critical to success as a property owner! Treating residents fairly from the application process through their tenure under an active lease agreement protects your properties and income and helps avoid costly lawsuits. If you have questions about legal resident management, hiring a company specializing in Atlanta property management services can help you get the answers you need.
Revolution Rental Management helps investors screen tenants and manage each one according to current laws. If you're not sure that your current practices comply or if you'd like the experts to take over your screening, leasing, and resident management services, we're here to help! Reach out, and let's talk soon.
If you are an investor looking to grow your portfolio, download a copy of our free guide, "Real Estate Investing: Growing Your Portfolio," today.