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Landlord's Guide to Fair Housing Laws

Being a landlord is a huge responsibility, and It is highly recommended that you review the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) as well as your state and local laws before marketing your rental property.

A landlord could face large fines if they are found guilty of a violation, you may also be liable for paying damages and attorney’s fees to someone who has experienced housing discrimination.

What Are Fair Housing Laws?

The fair housing laws guarantee a person’s right to obtain housing regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability.

What Is Considered Illegal Discrimination?

The Federal Housing Act requires all landlords to treat all applicants equally. It is a violation of the FHA if you apply one set of standards for certain applicants, but a different set of standards for a different group of applicants.

Here are some common fair housing mistakes you’ll want to be aware of:

Creating rules that treat renters with children differently than renters without children. A rule such as “Children may not ride bicycles on the property” is discriminatory if other residents of the property are permitted to ride bicycles on the property.

Asking a prospective tenant how many children they have or if they are expecting.

Declining a rental application for any reason other than the prospective resident not meeting your stated qualification criteria.

Denying a disabled resident’s request for an assigned parking spot or refusing to install grab bars in the bathroom.

Evicting a hoarder. Hoarding is a disorder, and as such, hoarders are entitled to protections under the Fair Housing Act as people with other mental or physical disabilities.

Failing to establish a clear maintenance response policy. A common complaint to fair housing is about maintenance requests not being handled properly and/or timely for all residents.

To learn more about the fair housing laws, visit

This article is not intended as legal advice and shouldn’t be construed as such. If you have questions about fair housing laws, please contact a real estate attorney in your state.

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