I work with landlords every day that try to do it all alone. You don't have to anymore. This Realtor will share tips, tricks and stories I have learned along the way to make life a little easier for you ~ and so you know you're not alone out there.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Do you know your rights on Fair Housing?
As a Landlord, you should know about Equal Housing Opportunity and who is in a protected class. There should never be any discrimination in housing, but there are certain areas that are very specific. These include Race, Skin Color, National Origin, Religion, Physical or Mental Disability, Gender, Familial Status (including the presence of children and marital status) and Military Status. This means that you CANNOT deny housing to members of these protected classes because of these reasons.
This week the Madison County Board of Commissioners hosted a Fair Housing class at the London Library in London, OH. It offered information for Realtors, Landlord as well as the public. In short, it was a very small group but a worth-while class.
There were a couple of areas that were mentioned that I think are very important to point out for Landlords to look into further. For more information, you can visit http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD
A Landlord cannot discount a tenant based on Criminal History. Landlords are no longer allowed to use a blanket clause like "I will not rent to any person that has a criminal background". Each individual case has to be examined as to the reason why someone was incarcerated. The Landlord's policies are something that should be prior set, in writing and held accountable to every single person that applies for renting. For example, said Landlord should be very specific in the description of what crimes are perceived as "acceptable" and what are not. Murder would most likely be an acceptable term for denial of an applicant. Criminal history because of failure to pay child support may not. If you have questions further about this situation, I would suggest to contact your county's Fair Housing consultant.
A Landlord cannot deny someone that is handicapped. I am sure that most people are aware of this. However, it is the Landlord's responsibility to provide reasonable accessibility of the home (apartment, condo, etc.) for said person and in a way that is not a cost burden to the Landlord. What this means is that if the home would have to be equipped with special items for the said renter to access and maintain every day living, it is not the Landlord's responsibility to bear the burden of the cost to make it accessible beyond what would be reasonable. If the said renter is willing to provide these items at their own cost and without compromising the structural integrity of the property, then the Landlord cannot deny them.
A landlord is able to write into a lease agreement that if the home is used as a meth lab, the tenant will be held responsible to pay for the clean-up. However, I was told that if a home is used as a meth lab and is discovered by authorities, the home will be boarded up. Wow. Talk about a kick to the gut!
And the last little tidbit of information that was a great suggestion for Landlords was that it may be a good idea to have a disclosure in your lease agreement regarding bedbugs. I am told that it is very costly to rid a home of these little critters. Depending on how it is stated in the lease, this can be a reason to forfeit a deposit and/or the tenant could be held responsible to the fees necessary for clean up.
Please keep in mind that I am in NO way giving legal advice on these matters. They are merely noteworthy items that you should seek further information on if they impact your Landlordship. If a tenant reports a Landlord to the Fair Housing commission, it is their responsibility to investigate EVERY SINGLE ACCUSATION. This is an area that should not be taken lightly and that every Landlord should know their rights as well as the law.