Fair Housing Law and Property Management

Mike Nelson
Mike Nelson

On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair housing Act of 1968. President Johnson was motivated to push congress to pass the act in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. He wanted to have the act signed before Dr. King’s funeral as a memorial to his great work in the civil rights movement. The following April, organizations such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began recognizing April as fair housing month in honor of the passage of the 1968 act.  Therefore, we close April with this blog post as a tribute to fair housing laws and their impact on the business of property management.

Fair Housing Law provides protection against discrimination for the following classes:  race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or handicap.

Several aspects of property management are affected by the Fair Housing Law; these include but are not limited to advertising, resident placement, and possible home modification. When advertising a home, it is important to remember that the ad itself cannot be written in such a way to discriminate against any of the protected classes. A common misconception is that any term referencing these categories is unlawful. General terms used to describe the amenities of a dwelling or specific features are not illegal. An example may be “mother-in-law suite,” this is a term that describes a feature of the home, it is not discriminating a particular sex or familial status. Resident placement is also affected by the Fair Housing Act. When processing applications for potential residents and making a decision to approve or deny an application, any part of the application that refers to a protected class cannot be a consideration in the decision process. Finally, home modifications may be necessary to accommodate for any handicap person. The act has a specific clause stating that if it is necessary for a person to modify a home because of a disability the home owner must allow any reasonable modification to be done at the disabled person’s expense. If accommodations are not allowed it is considered discrimination because the person is not being allowed full use of the property because of their disability.   As stated above, this information represents merely a snapshot of areas of property management impacted by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. For more information please visit http://www.justice.gov/crt/housing/title8.php.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 took a step toward Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. In Dr. King’s words, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” This act is a tool that can guide us in these efforts.

Blog Post contributed by Kim Butler, an employee of Excalibur Home Management.

References

(Andrew L. Propst, “Fair Housing & Disability,” Residential Resource, April 2010, Volume 21,

Number 4, pg. 16)

(U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, History of Fair Housing, 21 August 2007,

http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/aboutfheo/history.cfm)

(U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Memorandum For: FHEO,Office

Directors, Enforcement Directors, Staff, Office of Investigations, Field Assistant General

Counsel, 9 January 1995,http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/disabilities/sect804achtenberg.pdf)

(United States Department of Justice, Fair Housing Act,

http://www.justice.gov/crt/housing/title8.php)

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