Fair Housing Law thoughts

9 Replies

So I want to be sure I am not in violation of the Fair Housing Law so wanted to pose a question:

I am in the middle of conducting my pre-screening application for potential tenants, I denied someone who did not meet the requirements (this individual - lets name him GARY- his credit score was not 600+ and this individual was not a student). I have another person-lets name him JOHN- that does not meet the x3 income and does not have 600+ credit score BUT he is a student. If he agrees to a co-signed/extra security deposit and I sign him on the lease will I be violating the Fair housing law? Hypothetically, GARY could have had a co-signer/extra security deposit even though he did not meet the requirement(s) but I denied him due to his score. Any thoughts?

Is GARY in any sort of protected class?  If not I don't think the Fair Housing Laws would even apply here.

Race, religion, Family status, religion etc. 

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/renters-rights-book/chapter5-2.html

If being a student is a written requirement, denying him because he is not a student is not a violation. If it is not a written requirement, and you offered concessions to one applicant and not another, there's the possibility that he could make up some reason that he was denied, and it could be a problem.

@Jason DiClemente

Where do I write this "written requirement"? I have my own qualifications that I abide by (600+ credit score, x3 monthly net payment income, no evictions, etc), I feel like if they don't qualify for this but they are a student (pretty much an exception), it would be unfair for other tenants they got denied but did not have this exception only because they were not a student.

I make sure they complete a pre-qualification questionnaire before proceeding further into submitting a full application (w/ credit/background check) so I'm trying to figure out if making an exception for a student is unfair.

@Anthony Hurlburt

Based off that website I think my case counts as one of this violation if I were to proceed with this tenant:

"before or during the tenancy, set different terms, conditions, or privileges for rental of a dwelling unit, such as requiring larger deposits of some tenants or adopting an inconsistent policy of responding to late rent payments"

If I require a larger deposit because they are a student, would that be a violation of fair housing act? This is very confusing because I know many people that do require a larger deposit based on their occupation (students).

@Peter Kim All of those issues only apply if the tenant is in a protected class.  Bad credit is not a protected class for example.  You are certainly allowed to require a larger deposit for legitimate reasons.

Originally posted by @Peter Kim :

@Anthony Hurlburt

Based off that website I think my case counts as one of this violation if I were to proceed with this tenant:

"before or during the tenancy, set different terms, conditions, or privileges for rental of a dwelling unit, such as requiring larger deposits of some tenants or adopting an inconsistent policy of responding to late rent payments"

If I require a larger deposit because they are a student, would that be a violation of fair housing act? This is very confusing because I know many people that do require a larger deposit based on their occupation (students).

No, you require the higher deposit/co-signer because of lack of income or time on job.  You would not require a higher deposit on an employed applicant making 3 x the rent in salary who also happened to be taking a college class, would you?   They are both students.

Students are not a protected class but your question doesn't make sense.

Treat everyone equally. In other words, if you allowed John to use a co-signer, why wouldn't you allow Gary to use one? Again, this isn't a Fair Housing violation unless Gary is a member of a protected class but why open the door to a complaint? Set your screening criteria and treat everyone equally.

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