Two Buffalo, NY landlords to be fined for housing discrimination

13 Replies

In today's Buffalo, NY News . . . 

Two Buffalo landlords to be fined for housing discrimination

I often read the apartment postings on Craigslist, and more often than not, I see postings that read "no Section 8" etc, so when I saw this article today, I was quite surprised.  I don't have property in Buffalo, NY (only in Rochester, where perhaps the rules are different).    Just wanted to share, and get the opinions of those in the forums.

Cheers!

It's pretty common to see that in ads here.  Occasionally I'll get a call about an apartment from a screener at one of the agencies that works to stop this sort of thing. They'll just say or do little things to try and catch discriminatory landlords.  As long as you're not being discriminatory in your advertisements or tenant selection process, it works out just fine.  That's one reason why it's so important to have written tenant selection criteria and to follow those criteria each and every time.

@David Stott   Wow. I think these guys could have saved themselves some hassle by simply not mentioning it. 

As I understand it, a property has to be Section 8 approved. If someone then asked if they could move in on Section 8 assistance, I would simply tell them I am sorry but this property is not approved for Section 8.

Someone please tell me if I am getting this wrong.

Thanks for sharing that. I have seen that quite a bit on Craigslist as well. As a newbie, if you don't want to deal with Section  8 or go against any of your set "good tenant" standards, then how do you avoid that without getting in trouble or discriminating?  Do you just tell them you will review all applicants and then let them know? 

@David Stott  thank you for posting the article - have been out of town for a few days so haven't seen today's paper. Although I don't think we've ever done or said anything discriminatory in our past (and future!) advertising or screening, this is all good information to remember. Thanks!

Good story, thanks for sharing. Definitely something to always keep in mind when you are advertising for prospect tenants.

Most do not have to worry about that. That law was for the City of Buffalo and was not enacted until 2006. They have no such law where I rent my properties and I will venture a guess its not on the majority of books in most US cities. 

WOW, I've been renting to section 8 for almost a decade.  Never understood why peeps won't rent to section 8 tenants.   I've found these people want a clean, nice, home to live in and will take great care of my home.  They simply want an opportunity to live away from crime and drugs.  I love section 8,  Direct deposit, on time every month.  Never late,   But, we screen tenants very hard....

I usually just post "lease is not section 8 compliant"  that avoids this whole mess.  I certainly wouldn't want any section 8 tenants thrashing my place and dealing in drugs as they are wont to due.  They couldn't pass a credit check anyway.

I always find it interesting that people use inductive methods when  handling the worries concerning discriminating against the enumerated protected class.  They invent these whole overwrote procedures and hassles for themselves.  I would suggest you just understand what the protected classes are then avoid giving the appearance of discriminating against them.  This is much easier, and less hassle, than going at it backwards and creating bizarre and complicated processes.

It's Funny but being in the business for as long as I have I have seen this issue come up many times before. This "Refusal" section 8 "ONLY" applies to the city of Buffalo and some parts of West Seneca & Hamburg. The surrounding areas, Williamsville, Clarence, Amherst, Hamburg ...etc can Refuse Section 8. In 2009  The NYS Supreme Court upheld a court decision that basically states it's discriminatory for landlords from refusing to accept Section 8 vouchers.

http://www.homeny.org/pages/programs/tenants

The State Supreme Court and the Federal Supreme Court allows local municipalities to decide how to enforce their own set of discrimination mandates.

It's always a safe bet to screen all tenants. I have a 5 page application myself and if any prospective tenant can't complete it in it's entirety. then that's too bad. 

Originally posted by @Derrick H.:

It's always a safe bet to screen all tenants. I have a 5 page application myself and if any prospective tenant can't complete it in it's entirety. then that's too bad. 

 Wow, 5 pages?  Mine is a full 2 pages now.  Can you send me a copy of yours?

sure....I use an online slimmed down version I have setup through wufoo.com I can send you the link if you want

From how I understand it, you can't put that you don't take section 8 in the ads, even if section 8 is NOT a protected class where you are. Which is a total pain because people will call and ask and then you can tell them no so long as that is not a protected class where you are. If you're in a jurisdiction where section 8 is a protected class, like in the lawsuit you referenced, it is illegal to not take it and illegall to post in the ad that you won't. All those ads you see where people say they won't take section 8 my be illegal as well. I can only speak for my area.

@Stan Hill  I have rentals in Cook County. As of August of last year, Cook County made section 8 a protected class. It used to be just Chicago. A lot of us have what if scenarios that have not been answered by Cook County.  From what I understand, it doesn't matter that the property needs to be section 8 approved since that can happen after the tenants application has been accepted.

@Kris Haskins  I read the section 8 draft contract that the landlord needs to have with Cook County and I don't care for their terms. What stood out to me was that they won't pay if the tenant destroys the place, and that I have to allow the tenant to have a home based business which included daycare.  Also, the amount they allow for a 3 bedroom isn't close to what market rent is.  We have to take a section 8 application and screen them just like any other tenant or risk being sued for discrimination. The what ifs of "what happens if the Section 8 inspection says I need to do xyz and I don't do it" and "what if I won't sign the contract with Cook County since I don't agree to those terms" have not been answered as far as I know.

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