This year, we celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, the landmark civil rights law signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968, that made discrimination in housing transactions unlawful. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, and familial status. The Act is intended to provide for fair housing throughout the country.
So you may ask as owner and housing providers how do we comply?
- First, establish Rental Criteria based on income, credit, rental history and apply it consistently.
- Make sure you display Federal and State Fair Housing posters at each place of business.
- Don’t forget to set occupancy standards.
- Be sure to maintain all records for a minimum of three years including applications, conversation logs, resident contact forms, resident files.
5 Thing Fair Housing Laws does NOT cover
- It does not guarantee a person the right to housing they cannot afford.
- Owners are not required to rent to anyone involved in illegal drug activity.
- Homeowners may set rents at whatever the market will allow while adhering to state and local imposed increase limits (AB1482, State of Emergency)
- Property Owners can apply nondiscriminatory rental criteria.
- Owners can refuse to rent to an individual if there is documented, reliable information that shows the individual is a direct threat to the health and safety of the residents or property
Accommodations and Modifications
There are two rights for disabled persons, modification and accommodation.
- Reasonable modifications
- A physical change to the property (to allow the person to use and enjoy the property the same as a non-disabled person
- Modifications that do not have to be restored to their original condition
- That are reasonable to restore to their original condition, excepting normal wear and tear
- Modifications that need to be restored to their original condition, excepting normal wear and tear and where special circumstances warrant
- Reasonable accommodations
- When management must make exceptions to rules, policies, practices, or services
- Reasonable modifications
- You can determine whether the request is reasonable once the resident has asked for the modification
- An owner can request any plans for modifications should be submitted prior to approval to make sure they are reasonable
- If you determine it is unreasonable, dialogue with the resident to see what alternatives might work.
- You should never deny a request without obtaining legal advice
- But, in most cases, the resident is responsible for the following:
- For cost of modification
- For acquiring proper permits
- Ensure work is done properly
This blog series is designed to alert you to key issues affecting Fair Housing. Bottom Line. Please – treat ALL people the same. If you experience interaction with someone in a protected class and are unsure what to do, it is OK to say I DON’T KNOW! And please call an attorney or property manager for help.