Property investors who are new to the landlord business can make mistakes that can affect their business. But what many new landlords do not know is that they could be making mistakes that violate the law. The Fair Housing Act seems like a basic piece of legislation to anyone who is renting property out for an income, but there are ways to violate the Fair Housing Act that might not even see coming. If you want to avoid unknowingly breaking the law, then you should become more familiar with the Fair Housing Act.
Your property has been proven to be in a safer part of town, which could make it an ideal rental for a single female. The college housing you bought has a reputation for being very safe, which you feel would be good for female students. Yet, if you try to advertise your properties as being safe for women, you are violating the Fair Housing Act. Even though you have the best of intentions, you are still violating the law by insisting that your property is better for one gender than another.
Let's say you rent an apartment to a single female and, after a series of events over months, you start dating that female tenant. By the word of the law, you are violating the Fair Housing Act as it could be interpreted that you are exchanging sexual favors for preferential treatment.
If in your advertisement for your rental you either specify no kids or you have a higher rental rate for kids, then you are violating the Fair Housing Act. Many new landlords try to directly appeal to single tenants because single tenants, in the long run, tend to be easier to deal with. But if your advertising or your actions exclude families or pregnant women, then you are violating the law.
It seems obvious that you are not allowed to discriminate against physically disabled potential tenants, but that goes beyond offering a lease to a disabled person. Once you agree to allow a disabled person to become a tenant, you must also allow that tenant to make the physical modifications to the property that they need to live.
Modifications would include wider hallways, ramps, and special alarm systems that disabled people require to be able to live safely on their own. The tenant would be responsible for the installation of any new equipment and to pay for any alterations to the property, but you as the landlord cannot deny your disabled tenant the ability to modify the property to suit their needs.
In the course of doing business as a landlord, it is possible for you to make many mistakes that would wind up being violations of the law. Before you actually start renting properties, you need to spend time becoming familiar with the law and understanding the subtle ways that you could violate the Fair Housing Act without even meaning to.