Landlord-Tenant Tuesday: Fair Housing in Rental Ads

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Alright, so I have a thing for theme-day posts. Anyway, let’s learn something. If you are a landlord or management company and currently have a vacancy, did you know that one misstep could subject you to a Department of Employment and Fair Housing violation? That comes with a hefty fine.

I will start with listing just a tidbit of some interesting findings from an Apartment Owner’s Association article. Tomorrow I will be at one of their Fair Housing seminar and I’ll write a more substantive blog then.

So, did you know there are certain words or phrases that have already been deemed “highly” or “marginally” offensive and could result in a violation of fair housing in included in your rental advertisement? “Highly” offensive words include: adult building, walk-in closets, or singles only. Remember, these words show that the advertisement (and thereby the landlord) is leaning towards a preference for a particular class while discriminating against a protected class. Designating a building as adult is discriminatory against both the young and families with children. The same goes for singles only, it discriminates based on a familial status which a big no-no. Walk-in closets, isn’t so obvious to those of us that can walk. However, it is offensive to the disabled or other individuals who wouldn’t be able to enjoy the “walk-in” part of the closet.

Here are some “marginally” offensive phrases you also shouldn’t use in advertising: no pets, exclusive, senior or military discounts. These are offensive for the same reason, they hint at a discrimination against a protected class, such as individuals with disabilities.

So now you are ready to type up your ad for that vacancy, and you want to place it on, what phrases can you use? Some acceptable phrase include: gated, residential area, parks nearby, assistance animals only, and large closets.

Stay tuned for more tidbits late this week. Parts of this article were pulled from the original AOA publication here.

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