Real Estate Attorney Helps Arkansas Landlords Understand the Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act was created to protect against discrimination based on race, color, nation of origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability when someone is selling, renting, or financing a home. As a landlord, it is essential that you understand the basics in order to stay compliant with the law and avoid claims being made against you. David E. Simmons Attorney at Law can help you understand your role as a landlord. While there is some basic information listed below, please contact us for more information and an individualized look at your particular situation.
Promoting Your Property on Social Media
Social media is a useful platform for landlords and property managers to promote their rentals. However, landlords, owners, and property managers may not be aware that the Fair Housing Act applies to all of the posts, tweets, pins, and online listings related to each property listing.
As you prepare a rental listing to post on social media, remember that there can be zero indication of preferences or limitations based on race, religion, sex, handicap, national origin, or family status. Landlords need to be mindful of these restrictions as they are promoting the property making sure to use language that is completely inclusive. All promotional posts and materials should be carefully scrutinized before posting and, if there is any doubt about the language used in the post, just leave it out.
Reasonable Rental Accomodations
The Fair Housing Act clearly outlaws any discrimination based on a handicap. The landlord of a rental property must make sure that reasonable accommodations are available for anyone who needs them. The handicap can belong to the renter, a person living with the renter, or any person associated with the renter who may need to access the property. As a landlord, it’s important to recognize that a tenant can claim discrimination if you refuse or neglect to make reasonable modifications to the rental property.
Potential renters can also include assistance animals, including those for used for emotional support, in their request for reasonable accommodations. To qualify for this accommodation, the animal must assist the disabled person in a clear way that makes it possible to live more effectively on the property. These assistance animals do not have be certified, licensed, or trained in any specific type of program. The landlord can only ask for documentation of the disability if that handicap or need for an assistance animal is not clear or already known.
Of course, these proposed property modifications or requests for assistance animals should be discussed with renters before the lease is signed. Any modifications you intend to make to the property need to be clearly stated in the lease. In the case of an assistance animal, the rental agreement needs to hold the renter responsible for any damage caused by the assistance animal. We recommend that, as a landlord about to offer a tenant a rental agreement, you first consult an experienced attorney who can help make sure you are in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act’s Restrictions on Landlords
According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords have certain restrictions when an accommodation animal is involved in the rental process. Once the tenant has requested such an accommodation, landlords and owners cannot put any restrictions on the breed or type of animal requested, charge a pet deposit, or deny the request outright.
If you, as a landlord, do push for restrictions or deny a request, be sure to consult with an attorney immediately. Legal exceptions under the Fair Housing Act are extremely limited, because the Fair Housing Act applies to more situations than the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Here to Help
As a landlord, you have much to consider. Managing a property and making sure renters are accommodated but not taking advantage of you can be difficult. If you have any questions about how the Fair Housing Act impacts you, contact David E. Simmons Attorney at Law today.