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Equal Housing Rules and Regulations: How to Stay Compliant

System - Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Property Management Blog

Renters are reaching out to you! 36% of American households rent their housing from landlords. That's more than 40 million households spread throughout the country. 

You can turn a profit by investing in real estate and appealing to a few renters. But you can't buy a property and expect to make money overnight. You must follow housing rules and avoid running afoul of the law. 

What rules do you need to follow? How can you adopt housing policies that are legal? How should you educate your employees? 

Answer these questions and you can court renters without creating legal headaches. Here is your quick guide.

Understand the Equal Housing Rules

Most equal housing rules and regulations are based on the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA prohibits discrimination in housing based on sex, race, and other characteristics. 

Many policies fall under the purview of the FHA. Denying someone a property, mortgage, or permit counts as discrimination. Restricting families with children to one part of a property or denying them access to recreational services also counts. 

The FHA is a federal piece of legislation, and states can pass their own laws. The state of Missouri has the Missouri Human Rights Act, which also prohibits housing discrimination and makes retaliation against complaints illegal. Talk to your lawyer about what other regulations you need to follow.

Adopt Consistent Housing Policies

You can screen tenants in several ways without violating anti-discriminatory laws. You can decline tenants with a track record of failing to pay rent. 

The key is that you adopt principles that you apply to all tenants. You can write your housing policies out and give them to applicants before they submit rental applications. 

Never single out a protected class of people. You can prohibit guests from being rowdy in the hallways, but you cannot prohibit children from being rowdy.

You can run tenant background checks, but you should do so for all applicants. You should only run checks to promote the safety of your property and find responsible tenants. 

Train Your Employees

Even if you are not violating fair housing laws, one of your employees may be in violation. You need to train all of your employees on how to be respectful to all tenants. 

You should also give lectures to your employees on the latest housing laws. Make sure they know what the laws mean and ask them to keep papers about the regulations.

If your employee violates the law, you should take note of it. Any egregious violation should trigger a report to the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). Waiting to register a violation can result in a fine.

Follow Fair Housing Rules

Housing rules can make the difference between a successful investment and a failure. You must follow the Equal Housing Act and Missouri's statewide legislation. 

Your policies should apply to all tenants equally, especially running background checks on applicants. All tenants should understand what your policies are and how they can avoid eviction. 

You are responsible for the actions of your employees. Give them anti-bias training and report any violations to the government. 

You can use help to follow the law. HomeRiver Group Kansas City helps landlords manage their properties. Contact us today.