As your income portfolio grows, your knowledge of property management needs to expand as well. This is especially true when it comes to fair housing. This is one of those topics that does not seem important – until you are accused of violating someone’s rights. The trouble is, when it comes to fair housing you are not innocent until proven guilty. It’s just the opposite! The accuser doesn’t have to prove the discrimination happened; you have to prove that it DIDN’T! Fortunately, if you put good, standard practices in place now, you will be better prepared if you’re ever accused of a violation in the future.
Most people think fair housing discrimination means someone was treated badly. Actually, discrimination has to do with being treated differently based on being a member of a protected class. The protected classes are defined by federal, state AND local laws! Many are aware of protected classes like race, gender and religion. But did you know that ‘source of legal income’ is a protected class in some places? People may also be protected from being treated differently because of their occupations in some areas. Do you think smokers are a protected class? What about pet owners? If someone is treated differently BASED ON being a member of one of the protected classes then there is a possibility of discrimination.
What if it wasn’t you, personally, who was accused of discrimination? Let’s say you had a friend show one of your properties for you when the alleged incident occurred. Since it wasn’t you, then you’re not at risk, right? Wrong! If you have someone acting on your behalf, they are your agent. You are responsible for those who are acting as your agent as well.
The problem of real discrimination is so rampant that HUD receives funding to hire testers to check for compliance with fair housing laws across the country. When they test, entrapment is one of the ways they are allowed to prove the violation. It doesn’t have to be a face-to-face encounter either. They can test over the phone and just the way their question is answered can be trouble. Punishment can be financial fines, damages and/or jail time.
Education, standard forms and standard practices that treat all protected classes equally are needed for protection in the event of a lawsuit. Make sure that what you are doing doesn’t violate the Fair Housing Laws. You can also attend our Rich Dad Education Elite Training Property Management Course for more information on systems that will protect you.
Stay tuned, in the next blog we will cover the protected classes, standard forms and what you should do/say to be in compliance with fair housing laws.
For more information on Fair Housing laws visit http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/FHLaws/yourrights.
Rich Dad Education Elite Training Property Management Course Instructor