Providers of housing, such as real estate companies and landlords, are prohibited against any form of discriminatory practices that make homes unavailable to certain people. Such discrimination may be based on sex, religion, race, skin color and family status, among other things. Many states also have additional protected classes. The anti-discrimination rules extend to mortgages and home improvements loans as well.
However, it does not mean you cannot have exclusive communities with a target audience in mind. There are instances when the Fair Housing Act does not explicitly apply. They include:
- Clubs or other private organizations designated for “members only”
- Housing meant for the elderly
- Owner-occupied home with less than four units
- A single-family home being put up for sale without engaging a broker
Tips to avoid violating provisions of the Fair Housing Act
It may seem obvious that you are supposed to follow non-discriminatory and ethical business practices. However, it does not hurt to brush up on your compliance obligations by following these tips:
- Educate yourself and your staff by regularly providing training avenues such as best practice courses. It will help your business comply with the law if your staff members are well informed.
- Proactively show that you support Fair Housing by being vocal about it, even in your advertisements. Be thoughtful and deliberate with the language you use.
- Treat everyone equally and fairly, despite their differences – or yours.
- Do your research and, if you are not sure, ask for legal guidance. This will avoid receiving complaints because you were uninformed about Fair Housing regulations.
Keep in mind that the law is constantly changing. Therefore, compliance means being well versed with the current laws in place. It will save you a lot in litigation or bringing up issues in the community you have worked so hard to build. Besides, it never hurts to be on the right side of the law.
Always check your local and state fair housing laws to make sure that you are following them in addition to the federal law. If you have any questions, contact an experienced Hart Kienle Pentecost attorney today to help you navigate through these often complex housing laws. We have nearly 40 years of experience in this area and we’d be happy to help.