Landlord Blog

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Preventing Illegal Discrimination

People who are looking for a place to live in expect to read advertisements that describe the property and amenities - not the tenants who are to reside in it. With all the different laws that affect landlords, you need to be very careful of your choice of language in your rental ads. If not, you can offend potential tenants and be held liable for discrimination. Worse, your printed out ads can be used as evidence against you. 

On this topic, several questions arise:

1. What are terms and concepts you need to avoid using when advertising your rental property?

2. What is an exception to the anti-discrimination restrictions for "boarders" or roommates and for senior residential complexes?

3. Are you required to use the "Equal Housing Opportunity" logo on your advertising materials?

Let's talk about the first of these 3 questions. What are terms and concepts you need to avoid using when advertising your rental property?

  • Adult - Never use the word "adult." For example, you cannot say, "Perfect adult community," because you are implying that people with children cannot apply. 
  • Single - You cannot discriminate on the basis of marital status. 
  • Religion - Your ads should not indicate any religious preference. For example, you cannot say, "Perfect for a Christian family."
  • Individual - Take out the word "individual" from your ads. This is a form of discrimination based on familial status. 
  • No children - Again, using the phrase, "No children" is considered discrimination for familial status. 
  • Gender/sexuality - Your ads should contain no preference or discrimination based on sex. 
  • Retired - You cannot discriminate against retirees. For example, you cannot say, "Looking for a retired individual." Also, you cannot discriminate based on source of income. A person may be retired but has other sources of income. 
  • Number of children - You cannot dictate how many kids renters should have.
  • Age of children - You cannot discriminate on the ages of children. 
  • Race/ethnicity - Your ads should not indicate a special preference to race or ethnicity. For example, you cannot say, "Lots of Mexican festival activities in this neighborhood.," or "Hispanic neighborhood."
  • Employed - A person may have great income and not be employed. Remember that someone's source of income can come from different places. 
  • Proximity to church - Again, this phrase should not be used in your ads. 
  • Disability - You cannot say, "Second floor unit not appropriate for disabled." It is unlawful for landlords to refuse to accommodate a tenant just ecause he has a disability. 

For the rest of this lesson, existing Landlord Prep students should log-in to the module entitled Between Tenants - Finding New Tenants & Advertising (Preventing Illegal Discrimination).

Not a member yet? Join the Landlord Prep: Video E-Course and How-To Tutorials so you can access this section and get the complete DIY landlording course. This will help you stay knowledgeable and confident as a landlord.