Though you likely have a manual of policies in place for your property management, one area that it is often neglected but critical applies to Fair Housing laws. Because Fair Housing is the standard by which property managers, landlords and owners are upheld, it’s important to insure that your manual includes this section. Though no one wants to think about it, if there ever is a Fair Housing complaint, HUD will ask to see your manual. Make sure it’s an asset to you and not a detriment.
Including a generalized Fair Housing policy
All you really need to have is a straight forward statement saying that your company follows the Fair Housing laws and guidelines. For example:
ABC Rental Properties adheres to both federal and state Fair Housing law. Because Fair Housing impacts all aspects of real estate, rental, and the management industry, we have added a special section on those policies. You will also find them cross-referenced throughout our policy manual.
Assuming you do include a specialized section, this will suffice . If not, even just having that statement can be very beneficial for both your tenants and your employees. If you do have employees or personnel, it is also important to be sure that they are fully aware of these laws and all they entail. If they violate them, you may be held liable as well. You may also want to include something along the lines of the following:
ABC Rental Properties does not tolerate Fair Housing violations of any sort. We do not discriminate based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, or national origin.
If your state also protects family and domestic partner status, be sure to add that in as well.
When you write about the legislation, there are a few key acts that you should include. These are The Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 1870: Sections 1981-2, The Americans With Disabilities Act, and Title VII if the US Civil Rights Act of 1968 as it was amended in 1988. Be sure to check with your state’s laws as well. You can find all of this information on HUD’s website, by following this link.
Your policy manual needs to reflect those portions of Fair Housing that you actually adhere to. So, for instance, if you do provide your employees with education, you can include that in the manual. If you do not, however, it’s best to leave this out. The idea behind providing this is firstly, to show that your rental company not only adheres to these laws against discrimination but is well versed in them, but also, to protect yourself in the event of a lawsuit. Make it clear, obvious and above all, accurate.