buying your first home - what you should know

FAQs About Housing Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act, or FHA, is designed to prevent discrimination against people from various backgrounds. As a landlord, it is your responsibility to follow the law. Here is what you need to know to avoid violating housing discrimination laws. 

Who Is Protected?

The FHA is designed to protect tenants from discrimination based on their race, color, sex, disability, national origin, or religion. You also cannot discriminate against anyone based on his or her familial status. In other words, you cannot legally refuse to rent or lease your home to someone who has at least one child under the age of 18. 

It is important to note that other situations might also be protected from discrimination based on state laws. For instance, some states have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. In others, you cannot refuse to rent to a potential tenant who has a drug or alcohol addiction. Addiction is often classified as a disability. 

How Can You Legally Exclude Children from Your Property?

Some landlords want to exclude children as possible tenants from their property. For some, it is a matter of a safety issue. For others, it is about protecting their property from potential damage. 

Regardless of the reason you want to exclude children, they are considered to be protected tenants under the FHA. However, there is an exemption in the FHA that allows you to designate your property as a 55 and older property. There are additional requirements that your property has to meet to avoid breaking the law.  

To protect yourself, you need to have a sound reason that falls within the exemptions created by the FHA.

What If a Complaint Is Filed Against You?

Despite taking precautions to protect yourself,  it is possible that you could be accused of housing discrimination. If it does happen, it is important that you take the accusation seriously. Violating the FHA comes with serious consequences, including heavy fines. 

Work with an experienced attorney to address the complaint. You might have to share your tenant selection process with state or federal investigators. You need to provide clear details, such as the income level you look for when screening potential renters. 

To avoid issues in the future, consult with a tenant services provider. Provides are familiar with the FHA and can help you establish guidelines to protect your property and ensure that tenants' needs are handled. Contact a real estate firm, such as Two Rivers Investment, for more information.