Discrimination claims - baseless? or should I be losing sleep?

5 Replies

Hello all,

I'd appreciate some input. Tonight a tenant applicant accused me of discrimination. There was a miscommunication - I thought he was not interested in the apartment (because when I showed it to him several days ago, his wife kept saying that they needed more bedrooms than it had, and that they would think about it). Anyhow, I mentioned off hand that if they decided they were interested that he could call me, and we could meet up on Wednesday night.

Well I never heard form him until tonight, when he called and said he was waiting for me to drop off the application. We agreed to meet at the unit. Well, unfortunately that was the same time that I was scheduled to meet someone else to accept an application.

The gentleman dropped off the application (while I was talking to the other applicant), but returned 15 minutes later and asked for it back. He tore it up, told me that he has lots of options of places to live and that there are laws against my discrimination.

Clearly he was upset that I was accepting an application from someone else when he arrived (and felt that I didn't show up for our original time). But I believe that he lost his rights to any discrimination claims because he withdrew his application. Of course, even if he hadn't I think it would be a baseless claim - but it's still giving me a great deal of anxiety.

I feel like I have gone to great lengths to standardize my process and make sure that I am never discriminating. I feel very badly, not because I did anything wrong but because I can see how he would feel as if he was wronged.

Anyhow, thoughts from the BP community would be much appreciated!

I don't get it.

Without knowing you application process, or your showing process, or your rental criteria, I can't say definitively, but from what you said the person felt discriminated against for some reason. I just don't see it from what you posted. My view is that a well defined policy, that is public (via website, for instance), will eliminate 99% of the perceived issues. Not enough to go on, but I'm not getting it...

You are allowed to take multiple applications. 

You never declined showing the place to him. You never declined taking his application. You never declined renting to him. So, I don't see the problem. Be sure to document everything that happened in detail, just in case. But I doubt anything will come of it.

Account Closed is spot on. I agree with what she said.

Also, review Fair Housing Law and what constitutes illegal discrimination. Be familiar with the protected classes for your jurisdiction. 

Did you know we can discriminate legally? We do it all the time. For example, we discriminate against people who don't have sufficient income, people who smoke, people who have a bad legal history, people who have poor credit history, people who have stiffed other landlords or destroyed their property, and people who lie on their applications or don't even turn in an application. The key is having clear rental criteria, screening tenants in the same manner, and not doing anything that would have a "chilling effect", such as making a comment that could be construed as discriminatory against a protected class.

Fear not and sleep well.

I tell everyone that applying is first come first approve and complete! I have had people working on applications for days best out by people who finish everything in hours! 

I do not hold, and I show the house till everything is done! This has prevented this issue a lot!

Just from what I have seen, the 'discrimination' accusation seems a little like it was staged and premeditated.  I wouldn't worry about it.  (I would, of course, but try not to!).  In the future, give all prospective applicants a printout of your general qualification criteria with the app.  Here that has become a requirement by law, but is good business practice anyway.  You can put right at the top that you screen all fully completed applications on a first come, first- serve basis and that you are an equal opportunity housing provider.  Seeing the unit first doesn't mean squat, basically. May clear up expectations a bit.

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