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A Guide to Fair Housing for Property Owners

Published on: Apr 9, 2024

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At Nomad, we are committed to upholding The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and we expect the same dedication from all property owners on our platform. Together we can create a network of amazing owners and tenants that help each other across the nation!

Fair Housing for Rental Property Owners

As an owner of a rental property, it's crucial to understand that the FHA is a key piece of civil rights legislation that safeguards against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status. While there are some exemptions to the Act, we believe in creating a welcoming environment for all renters and safeguarding against potential legal issues.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enforces the FHA to ensure equal rental housing access. It's important to be aware of key provisions such as avoiding discriminatory advertising, providing reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, and ensuring fair tenant selection processes.

While the FHA is enforced federally, state and local Fair Housing Laws may place additional requirements on your rental. As an owner on Nomad’s platform, it is your responsibility to inform yourself of these regulations as they pertain to your property.

Marketing Your Rental Property

Nomad offers unique control and tools to owners, a major value being that Nomad empowers you to craft your own property listings. You know your region and property best so we want you to create a listing that captures those features. Crucial to your success is that your listing be free of discriminatory language or language that conveys preference for any protected classes. You should always highlight the great features of your rental listing, and always do so using inclusive language that focuses on the property itself, not the people who might reside there. Language such as “This home is great for anyone looking to live in the heart of the city” is acceptable, whereas language like “This home is great for families or young couples” is not.

Interacting with Potential Tenants

Nomad simplifies the tenant screening process by establishing clear eligibility criteria focused on income, credit, and rental history. We handle the documentation and eligibility decisions to help maintain compliance with Fair Housing laws. Once an eligibility decision is made, you are in the driver seat to finish negotiating with the tenant and send them a lease.

We know that Nomad Owners value the visibility and transparency that they have with their prospective tenants both during the leasing process and into the owner-tenant relationship.

So, when you interact with potential tenants, whether during property showings, lease negotiations, or other communications, always adhere to Fair Housing guidelines. Refrain from asking questions or making statements that could be construed as discriminatory.

If Nomad identifies an eligible applicant, we recommend proceeding with the lease agreement, provided the rental terms (rental rate, lease start date, lease length) are acceptable to you. An eligible applicant from Nomad means we back them financially and offer Guaranteed Rent to you during their lease term.

FHA Protected Classes

National Origin, Race, or Color:

In both your advertisements and conversations, steer clear of comments that favor or exclude specific racial or ethnic groups. Instead of highlighting the ethnic makeup of a neighborhood, focus on neutral features like "quiet cul-de-sac" or "community garden." Do not make statements that describe or imply the racial make-up of the neighborhood. Avoid making statements about the race, national origin, or color of the people you meet, and do not make assumptions about your potential tenants based on these protected characteristics.

Sex:

Use terms like "open-plan apartment" or "private ensuite" to describe your property without implying a gender preference. Statements like “single female only” or “no men” are in conflict with the rules of the Act. In conversations, avoid making assumptions about a potential tenant's living situation or preferences based on their gender.

Religion:

Mentioning amenities like "meditation space" or "quiet reading nook" is fine, but avoid expressing a religious preference or restriction in your ads or discussions. Implying a preference for a specific religious group, or forbidding religious practice are both violations of the FHA. For instance, don't ask a potential tenant about their religious practices or holiday observances, even if in a well meaning conversation.

Familial Status:

Highlight family-friendly features like "playground nearby" or "extra storage space" without implying that certain family types are preferred. In conversations, refrain from asking about marital status or the number of children a tenant might have. It is ok to highlight local schools in your listing, but avoid statements that indicate you would prefer a specific family make-up.

Handicap or Disability:

Promote accessibility features such as "ramp access" or "adjustable kitchen counters" in your listings, but do not make statements such as “no wheelchairs”. During interactions, be open to discussing any reasonable accommodations a tenant with a disability may need without making assumptions about their capabilities. Remember, not all disabilities can be seen – do not make statements about the kinds of people that your property would or would not be a fit for.

Compliance with the Fair Housing Act is not just a legal requirement; it's a commitment to fostering inclusivity and equality in housing. By understanding and implementing fair housing practices in your marketing and interactions with tenants, you play a vital role in creating a more equitable housing market. Let's partner together to make a positive impact on the rental market!

This blog is intended to be educational in nature. Laws and regulations can shift quickly and the information in this blog may not be applicable to your specific situation. You should always consult an attorney if you have a need for specific legal advice.

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