The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that was passed in April of 1968, and it has changed and expanded over the last few decades. In California, fair housing laws are even stricter than those imposed by the federal government. Each city or community may have its own laws and guidelines, too.
The fair housing advice we often offer to Roseville rental property owners is to know the laws and be over-cautious about complying with them. If you don’t have the time or resources to follow all the changes in fair housing laws, make sure you’re working with an experienced Roseville property management company.
This law must be followed when you market your property, screen tenants, and manage your tenant relationships. With the new tenant protections recently passed in California, owners have to pay attention to even stricter measures. Service animals and Section 8 are important parts of the law now.
Often, there’s confusion about what owners and landlords can do and not do when it comes to screening and advertising and even tenant eviction and lease renewals. Fair housing mistakes are extremely expensive for landlords and property owners, so you need to understand what’s required and allowed.
Here are some of the things you need to know about fair housing and how it affects your rental property.
Federal Fair Housing and Protected Classes
The federal Fair Housing Law protects the following classes of people against discrimination in rental housing. You cannot discriminate or deny housing based on:
- Skin color.
- Religion or creed.
- National origin or ancestry.
- Physical or mental disability.
- Familial status.
You probably wouldn’t intentionally discriminate against a potential tenant. However, you can make unintentional mistakes when you’re advertising your property and screening tenants.
Here’s an example. If you advertise your home as “close to churches” or “perfect for a single professional,” you may be discriminating without realizing it. You cannot appear to be soliciting certain types of tenants over others.
California Fair Housing Laws
California is a little different when it comes to fair housing.
The state has even more protected classes than those listed by the federal law. In California, we get into protected classes that cover sexuality, age, gender identification, veteran’s status, and citizenship.
Protected classes have rights that are easy to misunderstand. For example, a tenant with a disability has the right to move into your home with a service or support animal, even if you don’t allow pets. Those Section 8 tenants who are qualified have a right to live in your home even if they get their income from a government housing program.
Fair Housing Impacts Service and Companion Animals
Animals become a fair housing issue when a tenant or an applicant has a service animal or a companion animal. You have to allow them, even if you don’t allow pets. That’s because fair housing laws do not see service and support animals as pets. They’re seen as accommodations.
Not only are you required to accept the qualified tenants and their service or companion animals; you also cannot charge a pet fee, pet deposit, or pet rent.
Section 8 as a Fair Housing Issue
The Tenant Protection Act was passed in 2019, and went into effect in 2020. This law requires landlords to allow Section 8 tenants to apply to rent their homes. Those housing vouchers can be used as proof of income. It cannot matter how tenants make their money when they apply to live in your home. As long as they have the required income that meets your screening criteria, you must consider them.
Following fair housing laws is a lot more complex than simply making a policy of not discriminating against those protected classes. You have to have policies that reflect equal opportunity when it comes to advertising, screening, leasing, and managing your home.
We know this is an area that can be difficult to navigate, and we’d like to help you stay in compliance while renting out your property. Contact us at Sunburst Properties for all your Roseville property management needs.