Author Archive

Could You be in Violation of Fair Housing Laws without Even Realizing It?

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Elizabeth Whited | www.therrd.com

fiarhousingAs we all well know, the Fair Housing Act prohibits any type of discrimination from Real Estate Professionals when choosing who to rent their property or unit to in regards to race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, family status or national origin, and in some counties: section 8 voucher status (www.tenantsunion.org). But what about disparate impact?

Disparate impact is the legal theory that people of certain races and ethnicities are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. This theory was previously used in regards to employment, but in recent years has moved into the real estate industry as well. The theory states that the use of criminal records for tenant screening purposes has a disparate impact on certain minorities who have been disproportionately represented in the legal system, and who therefore have criminal records that could be used to determine that they should not be rented to. Fair Housing Advocates argue that in effect, while you may be following all Fair Housing Laws, and screening every applicant, you could be inadvertently discriminating against certain minorities (Wikipedia).

The Landlord Times gives a great example: “…a property management company has a policy of charging a set rental amount for the first three residents in a household, plus $100 per month for each additional resident. This policy, although applied equally to all applicants and residents, will have a disproportionately negative effect on families with children, and thus likely violates fair housing laws. Similarly, a policy of denying rental to everyone who has any criminal record may have a disparate impact on certain protected class groups (such as race, national origin, and disability).”

On the other side of that argument are landlords and owners who want to protect their tenants, as well as their staff from those who have committed crimes in the past (be it on a property, or not). Another question that is being debated by certain states is should applicants who have a criminal history be immediately rejected, even if it is not directly related to an on-property offence? This issue also arose in employment screening, and a few states have made amends to only deny an applicant if they can directly relate the crime to the specific job the applicant applied for. They also argue that being a convicted criminal does not put a person into any protected class.

Another law that you could begin to see take hold in other states is the Fair Tenant Screening Act, passed in Washington, which compels landlords to share the reasons behind obtaining certain information required from applicants that is used during the screening process. If a landlord or owner does not disclose this information, then they themselves must pay for the screening fee, even if a third party tenant screening company is used. The owner must also easily identify what criteria for that particular property will fail an applicant. If an adverse action follows a screening report, then the manager or landlord must notify the applicant in writing if it is a direct result of any of the following conclusions:

  • Information contained in a consumer report
  • The consumer credit report did not contain sufficient information
  • Information received from previous rental history or reference
  • Information received in a criminal record
  • Information received from an employment verification (www.walandlord.com)

A few screening companies out there already offer adverse action letters, and lists of criteria needed from applicants that will be used in their screening process. If criminals cause problems on a property, then future landlords and property managers have a right to know. This does not mean however, that they will not be rented to, but sharing this type of information can be beneficial to all parties involved. Any sort of “black list” of who not to rent to posted online, written, or read aloud in any capacity is illegal, because there is no addendum to inform the tenants, evidence, and no appeals on behalf of the tenant.

Do your research, and make sure to find a database that utilizes all of these tools and is Fair Credit Reporting Act compliant for a completely legal way to share information about tenants. To stay up to date on new amendments and additions to the Fair Housing Law, please visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website, or see a list of landlord/tenant laws broken down by state.

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RentRiteDirectoryLogoFinal USE THIS ONEAbout the Author: Elizabeth Whited is the Operations Coordinator at the Rent Rite Directory. She has written educational articles for multifamily magazines and Real Estate websites to help Property Managers and Owners improve their properties, in an effort to reduce crime in their communities. The Rent Rite Directory educates Property Managers and Owners at Crime Watch Meetings, and Crime Free Association Conferences, and works closely with law enforcement nationwide. For more information, visit www.therrd.com.

Elizabeth Whited 1-855-733-2289, ewhited@therrd.com

Four Reasons to Ditch the ‘Gimmick’ Phone Greeting

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Rommel Anacan  |  The Relationship Difference

If your employees answer phones onsite with some variation of these greetings:

answeringphone

“It’s a GREAT day at Quail Run Apartments!”
“It’s a BEAUTIFUL day at The Enclave!”
“It’s an awesome morning at Eagle Creek. Home of world-class service, 24 hour apartment maintenance, Satisfaction Award winner for 3 years running, fresh-baked cookies, and the best coffee outside of Seattle…!”

After Sandy… Now What?

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

7 Suggestions to help you plow through the Chaos

By: Nick Frantz

In October, Hurricane Sandy slammed the east coast and wiped out entire communities. Sandy, the largest Atlantic mega storm on record, caused 100 deaths; an estimated $50 billion in damages; demolished hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses; and left millions of households and businesses without electricity, heat, water and provisions.

Resident Safety: A Common-Sense Approach

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Nick Frantz

Security is a tough nut. Everyone wants it, yet no one can guarantee it. Most lease agreements make that clear. But as you well know, resident safety is not completely out of your realm of responsibility. So let’s take a common-sense look at some of the legal, ethical and business aspects.

Industry News: Apartment Market Expansion Continues as Growth Rate Moderates

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

“Even after nearly three years of recovery, apartment markets around the country remain strong as more report tightening conditions than not…”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Apartment markets improved across all areas for the seventh quarter in a row, but the pace of improvement moderated according to the National Multi Housing Council’s (NMHC) Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions. The survey’s indexes measuring Market Tightness (56), Sales Volume (51), Equity Financing (56) and Debt Financing (65) all measured at 50 or higher, indicating growth from the previous quarter.

Doing More with Less

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

5 Tips for Facing the Unrelenting Challenge

By Nick Frantz

“We need to do more with less.” At work, at home, in our communities… the mandate is unrelenting. It’s a challenge; but it’s also a reality. So let’s approach it with a positive mind set. After all, doing more with less means becoming more efficient.

Identifying Human Trafficking

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

How Property Managers and Multi-Family Employees Can Help Identify Human Trafficking

By: Elizabeth Whited

To be honest, have you ever considered your role in your community when it comes to helping to uncover and end human trafficking? I had to ask myself the same question, because until I began working for my company, I was unaware of the extent of this issue, and how professionals in the Real Estate Industry have the ability to change it.

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