Fair Housing Laws in Houston & What Investors Should Know Before Renting Out a Property

By December 30, 2015Property Management

As a landlord, it’s important that you’re familiar with the fair housing laws. They are meant to protect people from discrimination when it comes to housing.

Protected Classes

There are seven protected classes of people, and none of your marketing materials, screening techniques or criteria for accepting or declining tenants can violate their rights. Those protected classes are;

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Familial Status

Disabilities are wide-ranging and they can be mental as well as physical. It might include someone who alcoholism or PTSD. Some tenants and applicants will require service animals, and you need to know how those differ from pets.

Tenant Qualification Criteria

Many landlords make mistakes with fair housing laws unintentionally. You can protect yourself from these potential errors by establishing a tenant qualification criteria and then applying it consistently to all applicants. You also need a written privacy policy that explains what you do with an applicant’s personal information. Remember to treat every applicant the same way – don’t make exceptions for one person and not another. That’s how you can get in trouble.

Accepting Applications

Document the date and time that you receive each application. That way, if you have several tenants who are qualified, you can offer the home to the first person who applied. When you deny an applicant, send an adverse action letter so they understand Fair Housing Laws in Houston & What Investors Should Know Before Renting Out a Propertywhy they were denied. Finally, never share an applicant’s personal information with other people. You need to protect their credit report and other materials.

Fair housing is an important part of owning and managing rental property. In addition to treating everyone fairly, you need to keep all tenant areas clean and in safe condition so people with disabilities don’t have trouble. If you have any questions about this topic, please contact us at Your Dream Real Estate.