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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Fair Housing Laws

Fact: housing discrimination can happen anywhere–even in your own back yard.

Discrimination against having (or not having) kids, race, creed, age, pets, disability, etc.–nobody is immune to housing discrimination. As a professional property management company, we know the laws and abide by the Fair Housing Act.

Here are a few things you should know about concerning fair housing laws.

Deceptive advertising

If you are a DIY landlord, you may not be familiar with the laws regarding fair housing and your rental ads. Wording that is gender-specific or describe a desired family type is not allowed. Landlords should not say “great for a young couple” as it may be considered discriminatory to families with children. You also shouldn’t say “near Baptist church” as this may imply they only rent to certain groups but you could say “church nearby” to describe a landmark.

Applicant screening

Most good landlords run a background, criminal history and credit check. They have every right to ask you about prior evictions, bankruptcies and judgments. But, asking if you have a mental and/or physical disability–or even inquiring on if you have a drug and alcohol problem–is toeing that very thin line between legal and discriminatory.

Pay attention to details

Rules within the lease should be written in a way in which they aren’t discriminatory to any one group of tenants. Don’t assume it’s okay to do something because you have a disability. Get the accommodation in writing upfront. A landlord is well within his or her rights to accommodate any one tenant on their terms but they cannot refuse to make accommodations to you should you have a diagnosed mental and/or physical disability.

Know your rights locally

In Maryland, state law mandates you must file any housing discrimination complaint within a 12-month period from the time of the alleged grievance. The law “provides fair housing regardless of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability. (The) Aggrieved person may file Complaint with Human Relations Commission not more than one year after Act.”

Other facts you should know

You may be surprised to know that certain diseases are considered a handicap. For example hoarding and alcoholism are both considered a disability and therefore, a protected class in the Fair Housing Act. In other words, you cannot evict a tenant because you find out they are a hoarder, however you can evict based on broken lease agreements and code violations such as fire hazards and improper storage of perishable food that can attract rodents and pests.

When you hire a professional property management company like Real Property Management, we know and understand the local, state, and federal laws so you as a property owner and a tenant will be protected.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.