Prohibit Unrelated Adults

10 Replies

Hi,  I recently had 2 roommates move into one of my SFRs.  This was their first place after college and they treated it like a frat house.  It was awful.  I would like to prevent this situation by prohibiting unrelated adults.  Does this in any way violate fair housing law?  Roommates are not a protected class, but I want to see if anyone else has done this.  Also is it wise to publish your minimal rental criteria on your website to weed out prospective tenants who wouldn't qualify based on credit or income requirements?

Hmm, I'd say that you'll have to check your local housing codes. If you limit your SFH to guess is that it is not allowable because you would have to inquire about marital status between a couple moving in together and you certainly cannot discreminate on that.

Keep in mind this is one bad experience. Not all unrelated adults treat a house like a frat party. I would suggest just a bit more backround checking on your potential tenants. That includes calling previous landlords including the one before their current one. The current one may give a great review in order to get rid of them. 

Originally posted by @Steven J. :

Hmm, I'd say that you'll have to check your local housing codes. If you limit your SFH to guess is that it is not allowable because you would have to inquire about marital status between a couple moving in together and you certainly cannot discreminate on that.

Keep in mind this is one bad experience. Not all unrelated adults treat a house like a frat party. I would suggest just a bit more backround checking on your potential tenants. That includes calling previous landlords including the one before their current one. The current one may give a great review in order to get rid of them. 

 Actually, marital status is not a federally protected class. Most states list it as one, but NC is one of the few states that does not, so discrimination based on marital status is legal there. I only learned that last year when researching NC as a potential state to invest in.

I would recommend the OP do some research on this topic specific to NC, perhaps speak to a landlord tenant attorney.

Originally posted by @Steven J. :

Wow... I'm guessing NC is a land lord friendly state in general?

 Meh... based on my research, it was kind of middle of the road. It was a little more costly and time consuming for evictions than, say, AZ or CO, but it's way better in general than blue states like CA (I know, that's not saying much!).

Originally posted by @Robert Lenfestey :

Hi,  I recently had 2 roommates move into one of my SFRs.  This was their first place after college and they treated it like a frat house.  It was awful.  I would like to prevent this situation by prohibiting unrelated adults.  Does this in any way violate fair housing law?  Roommates are not a protected class, but I want to see if anyone else has done this.  Also is it wise to publish your minimal rental criteria on your website to weed out prospective tenants who wouldn't qualify based on credit or income requirements?

 What are you going to fo about an unmarried couple?  How about a gay couple?  It's always better to do better screening that to discriminate.

This might not help with your current situation, but you certainly can limit the number of unrelated adults. See the Fort Collins, Colorado, law at http://www.fcgov.com/neighborhoodservices/occupanc... .

And, as others have noted, you could get two librarians or interior designers who are at the opposite end of the spectrum from your frat house types.

Don't publish the rental criteria on your website. The list might become an invitation for tenant-advocacy groups to find a way to attack your business with some kind of discrimination complaint. You could discourage bad applicants by emailing an application and a list of acceptance criteria to everyone who wants to see a property. The give them hard copies when they do see the house.

Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:
Originally posted by @Robert Lenfestey:

Hi,  I recently had 2 roommates move into one of my SFRs.  This was their first place after college and they treated it like a frat house.  It was awful.  I would like to prevent this situation by prohibiting unrelated adults.  Does this in any way violate fair housing law?  Roommates are not a protected class, but I want to see if anyone else has done this.  Also is it wise to publish your minimal rental criteria on your website to weed out prospective tenants who wouldn't qualify based on credit or income requirements?

 What are you going to fo about an unmarried couple?  How about a gay couple?  It's always better to do better screening that to discriminate.

 Well, as I stated above, unmarried couples are not a protected class in NC (I'm assuming here that the OP's rental is in NC since he is in NC).  Sexual orientation is also not a federally protected class; I don't think it's a protected class in NC, but I could be wrong about that.  As I mentioned before, OP is encouraged to seek legal counsel on this issue that is specific to his state (I'm not a lawyer; not legal advice).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he should discriminate against those types of people.  I'm just saying I don't think it's illegal, so it's his choice.  My thought is always: if other landlords want to discriminate against people who would make great tenants, that's fine, it just leaves more qualified tenants for me! :)

@Robert Lenfestey

 You can decide not to rent to people who are roommates if you want to.  However, I wouldn't let one bad experience sour you on roommates.  I've seen single people, families, roommates, couples and everything in between trash homes.  You need to screen people better, not decide that a totally unimportant criteria (like roommates) is going to be your most important screening tool.  Just a pro-tip...  ☺

I know most folks think disgusting when someone mentions "Frat House" and I'm not 100% sure why.  I lived in a Frat house during both my undergraduate and graduate times at RPI.  With the exception of Saturday and Sunday mornings, that place was always clean.

A few reasons to keep frat houses, or anywhere, clean:

You live there.

People you are trying to hook up with/date/marry/etc.  Now I know nothing says romance like flies buzzing around 5 day old Chinese food...

Pride.  This is the place you call home for a fair portion of your college days.  This is the place you have to convince your folks to pay for rather than putting you on campus somewhere.

</rant>

@Robert Lenfestey - there is no perfect screening technique out there.  Frat boys will run amok, families will tear down your walls, old couples will "forget" to pay you for months on end and random people will paint your walls with oil paints in colors that children would find revolting.

Screen people, take the max security deposit and make sure you are protected from damages in every way you and your lawyer can think of.

I don't think that's a protected class but I think you're treading on thin ice. I wouldn't let one bad experience write off everyone in that group. We've had unrelated adults live together (especially in our campus rentals) and while the turnover is usually heavier, it has worked out fine for us.

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