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Complying with the Fair Housing Act while vetting mobile home residents

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2020 | Firm News

To a certain extent, mobile home communities need to scrutinize new residents to ensure the safety of their current residents. Owners also have to balance the ability to make a profit with the need to take reasonable steps to vet new members of the community. However, this can’t come at the cost of breaking specific laws. The Fair Housing Act is one of the laws with which all landlords must comply.

The FHA prevents landlords from discriminating against individuals based on specific factors. Enacted in 1968, the Act’s main focus was originally on preventing racial discrimination in housing decisions, but it has since evolved to include a host of other protections for consumers. Understanding what these are can benefit mobile home community owners and managers alike so they can make sure they aren’t violating the law.

It isn’t ever appropriate to discriminate against a renter or potential renter because of their skin color, sex, religion, disability, familial status or national origin. Claims made regarding these points are taken very seriously, so it’s best to have a clear policy that strictly forbids discrimination in all forms. 

Familial status, in particular, is an issue that cause compliance issues for some landlords. With little exception, it is wholly illegal to refuse to deny housing to a family with children just because there are minors in the household. You can’t place special conditions on tenants who have children unless those same conditions apply to all renters. The only exception to this is when a community is classified as a senior housing community as outlined in the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995, which provides housing for people who are at least 55 years old. 

This law doesn’t mean that you can’t vet out potential renters. Instead, it means that you can’t consider protected factors when making your decisions. It might behoove you to outline the specific criteria for tenancy at your community so that there aren’t any questions about what’s considered. It’s also smart to engage an attorney for any questions about Fair Housing compliance.