LANDLORDS! Prepare to make Subjective decisions in renting.

6 Replies

By now we all know to use only Objective criteria in qualifying prospective tenants. THAT may all change believe it or not.

I recently attended the winter conference of the Washington Landlord Association. One of the featured speakers was an attorney for a government agency.

There's a notion afoot that because our society now has built-in racial bias that we can no longer disqualify rental prospects based on blanket qualifications.

EXAMPLE.  An across the board 'yes' answer to a question such as 'Have you ever been convicted of a felony?' cannot automatically be used to turn down a minority applicant.

Seems like we now need to dig a little deeper - 'How long ago was the felony?' 'Was it for a violent offense?' 'Did you get counseling?' etc  etc. The bottom line is we may have to end up making subjective decisions. Ya sure you betcha. Easy to see where that will end up. 

The government is again opening a can of worms for us to feed off. Its a good thing one of my exit strategies is to turn rentals into another type of investment.

Jerry Lucker

Originally posted by @Jerry Lucker :

EXAMPLE.  An across the board 'yes' answer to a question such as 'Have you ever been convicted of a felony?' cannot automatically be used to turn down a minority applicant.

Could this kind of question be used to turn down a non-minority applicant? Are they suggesting we treat minorities and non-minorities differently? We'll need to stay tuned as to what movement is afoot, but for now, I'm sticking with following the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and the landlord-tenant laws for my jurisdiction. What agency is the attorney from and what is his/her specialty of law? Did he/she cite any sources?

I seem to remember something I saw about the same applying to job postings where companies can no longer ask if the applicant was convicted of a felony on the initial job application.  I don't see how this is racist considering that race and ability to not break the law are not related.

@Andre Yochi   Are you serious abbot the racist stuff? If you have ever visited a prison, if not than ever seen one on tv what did you observe? Did you ever see prison here in the USA  where 90% were white? I don't thinks so. Of course that minorities are discriminated against!

    Hopefully the sensless war on drugs will be over soon and this should help MOST of the folks with the above problems

Kind Regards

Val

Originally posted by @Val Csontos :

@Andre Yochi  Are you serious abbot the racist stuff? If you have ever visited a prison, if not than ever seen one on tv what did you observe? Did you ever see prison here in the USA  where 90% were white? I don't thinks so. Of course that minorities are discriminated against!

    Hopefully the sensless war on drugs will be over soon and this should help MOST of the folks with the above problems

Kind Regards

Val

Interesting perspective.  I suppose I never considered that convicted minorities didn't actually break the law and were just being discriminated against.  I find that a little hard to believe just at face value.  However, if that is the case it seems that these new rules are still addressing the wrong side of the issue and placing the burden on businesses/investors versus addressing the actual problem in our justice system or otherwise.

The thought could be that landlords are either purposely or, even unknowingly, are discriminating against minorities by having a qualification that negatively impacts a class of people.  For example, if 12% of minorities in an area have felony records as opposed to 7% of non-minorities...than by definition there will be an inherent discrimination against minorities.  I personally am not saying a "no felonies" disqualifier is bad, just pointing out where this might be coming from.

Although this has to do with job discrimination, there is a landmark case that makes this point.  In Griggs, the Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited the use of employment practices that have the effect of excluding racial minorities even if the employer did not intend to discriminate unless the employer can prove that the practice is related to job performance.

If I remember correctly, I think the above case had to do with an African American employee applying for a job/promotion, but was turned down because he did not have a high school diploma.  He took the company to court and successfully argued that requiring a high school diploma is not a key component to performing that particular job.  As such, to require one was discriminating against African American workers in the community because there was a higher percentage of this class that did not have HS diplomas as opposed to non-African Americans.

A silly, but obvious example of this same idea would be that a company cannot randomly require all employees to be over 6' tall...because this inherently discriminates against women.  Now...if being over 6' tall is a key component of successfully performing a job...like being an NBA basketball player...than this type of "discrimination" is okay.

Religion is another protected class in terms of hiring.  However, it is perfectly okay to require a person to be Lutheran if they are applying for a job as a Lutheran pastor.  But not so okay if they are applying to be a cook in a restaurant ;).

This sounds silly, but let's see how it might play out. 

Requirement of gross household income of at least 3x rent - wait a minute, minorities in that area don't earn as much gross household income as non-minorities so you can't require that. 

Requirement of no evictions - wait a minute, minorities experience more evictions than non-minorities so you can't require that.

I'm sure others can come up with more ...

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