Fair Housing Act And Why It Is Important For Leasing Teams And Property Managers

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Fair Housing Act And Why It Is Important For Leasing Teams And Property Managers

Anjali Dalal | Apr, 19 2024

Fair Housing Act: An Easy Guide For Leasing Teams And Property Managers


Renting out property in the United States is a significant responsibility, with legal duties tagged along its side, notably under the Fair Housing Act.

Understanding and complying with these rules is critical whether you manage a single-family home or a multifamily complex of 100 units. This blog will discuss the Fair Housing Act and how to ensure compliance.

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What Is The Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act is the principal federal act overseeing fair housing in the United States, as part of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Also known as the Fair Housing Law, it protects individuals from discrimination in housing-related activities based on protected classes.

The Fair Housing Act


These classes include:

Race And Color

The Fair Housing Act does not support racial or color discrimination. Property managers and leasing teams must guarantee that everyone is treated fairly, regardless of race or color.



Religious bias should not be visible in any way while renting a property. Property managers should never discriminate against tenants because of their religious views or practices.


National Origin

The Fair Housing Act also prohibits discriminating against someone just because they are not a native national. Property owners have a duty to guarantee that everyone is treated equally, regardless of where they come from.



Fair housing rules prohibit sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Property management and leasing teams must provide fair treatment for all individuals, regardless of gender.


Familial Status

Familial status is the presence of children under the age of 18 in a home. The Fair Housing Act forbids discrimination against families with children, and property managers cannot impose excessive restrictions or requirements on them.



The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. Property managers and leasing teams must provide reasonable adjustments and adaptations for individuals with disabilities to ensure equitable access to housing.


Property Managers And Leasing Team Duties Under The California Fair Employment And Housing Act (FEHA)

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires property managers and leasing teams to follow strong anti-discrimination and fair housing requirements. Their responsibilities include ensuring all prospective and current tenants get equitable treatment regardless of race, color, religion, gender identity, country of origin, disability, or familial status. This includes the lease procedure, property upkeep, and tenant relations. Violations of the FEHA can result in legal penalties.

Fair Housing (California)


Who Oversees Fair Housing?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is in charge of ensuring fair housing in the United States. It resolves fair housing complaints and provides information on federal fair housing rules and regulations. HUD publishes an annual report analyzing fair housing complaints and trends, providing significant insights and information for landlords and tenants.

Fair Housing California (English And Spanish Versions)


What Kind Of Discrimination May Local Or State Laws Prohibit?

In addition to federal rules, landlords must follow local and state fair housing laws. Depending on their region, it may be illegal to discriminate based on gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship, age, criminal history, source of income (including Section 8 vouchers), and marital status. Before listing rental property, they must always check with their local and state laws.

Fair Housing National (English And Spanish Versions)


Are There Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act?

While such exclusions exist, they typically do not apply to private landlords. Possible exclusions include:

  • Housing dedicated for 55+
  • Religious organizations providing housing to members
  • Private clubs refusing accommodation to non-members
  • Occupancy standards as per local act
  • Owner-occupied housing with fewer than four units

Before claiming an exemption, speak with HUD to confirm compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

Fair Housing (California/Spanish)


What Should You Know About Renting To Families With Children And Disabilities?

The Fair Housing Act includes two protected classes: familial status and disability. It forbids discrimination based on the presence or absence of children or individuals with any type of impairment, whether mental or physical. Landlords must present all available flats to families (including children and people with disabilities), and rent cannot be adjusted based on their presence.


Determining The Maximum Occupancy

While discrimination based on familial status is forbidden, landlords may refuse to rent to groups exceeding permitted occupancy. Certain localities have specified occupancy limitations, and the Keating Memorandum recommends a general rule of two individuals per bedroom, with certain exceptions.


Accommodations For Disabilities

Both the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act protect individuals with impairments. Fair housing rules compel property managers to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities to ensure equitable access to housing. A reasonable accommodation is a change, exemption, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be required for a disabled person to have equal access to use and enjoy a normal home.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include offering designated parking spaces near a tenant’s unit for individuals with mobility impairments and permitting a service animal for a disabled tenant, even if the property has a “no pets” policy.

Fair Housing (National)


What Does Housing Discrimination Look Like?

Housing discrimination may be both intentional and unintentional.

  • Intentional Discrimination: Disparate treatment is an intentional discrimination against individuals because they belong to a protected class. For example, refusing to rent to someone because of their religious views or putting different terms and conditions on tenants depending on their family status would be considered discriminatory treatment.
  • Unintentional Discrimination: Disparate impact is defined as unintentional discrimination that seems neutral but has a discriminating effect on a certain set of individuals. For example, a regulation demanding a minimum income for tenants may disproportionately exclude individuals based on race or national origin.

Fair Housing (National/Spanish)


How Can Landlords Provide Fair Housing?

Understanding the fundamentals of fair housing is critical for landlords and property managers. To abide by fair housing laws:



We understand that property managers and leasing teams seek exceptional rents when letting out their properties. However, while promoting the property, they must follow the Fair Housing Act and avoid using discriminatory language, images, or comments that may dissuade individuals from applying for housing based on their protected class. Examples of this include: 

  • Only older and quiet people
  • Native speakers only
  • No disables
  • No children

Instead, they should adopt marketing methods that include a wide spectrum of tenants in ads, as well as inclusive phrasing like “all are welcome” or “housing is available to everyone.”


Answering Questions

Answering questions is part of letting out. When property managers rent out a property, they must answer certain questions. For example, if they are asked about the available apartments in the home, they must show all interested parties the whole unit. They cannot put forward different conditions for different individuals based on their convenience.



Property managers should provide uniform rates for all potential tenants, regardless of class. They cannot alter prices based on protected classes.


Accepting Applications

Property managers must welcome applications from all interested and eligible individuals. They have the right to reject applications due to incapacity to pay the rent, but they cannot reject applications based on protected classes or standards.



Property managers must prevent discriminatory actions throughout the screening and application procedures. It includes not imposing additional requirements or limitations on applicants because they belong to a protected class and not using different screening criteria or procedures depending on an applicant’s protected status.

For example, denying housing to an applicant based on a criminal history without regard for the nature and severity of the offense or imposing stricter income requirements for applicants based on race or national origin would be considered discriminatory and could result in legal consequences.



Property managers must continue to follow fair housing laws during the rental period. They must offer timely maintenance and repairs to all tenants, regardless of class. Aside from complying with the Fair Housing Act of 1968, landlords should also obey the Sexual Harassment Act and any other laws in their local area to protect themselves and their tenants from harassment.


Providing Accommodations

To provide equitable access to housing, property managers must allow tenants with disabilities to make appropriate adaptations to the premises at the tenant’s expense. A reasonable modification is a structural change made to a dwelling or common area to accommodate a person with a disability. 

Examples of reasonable modifications include installing grab bars in bathrooms, widening doorways for wheelchair accessibility, or installing a ramp to the entrance of the building.

Fair Lending Laws


Legal Responsibilities Of Property Management And Leasing Teams

Property managers and leasing teams are legally obligated to follow all fair housing laws. It involves knowing and enforcing federal, state, and local fair housing laws, as well as developing policies and procedures that encourage fair and equal treatment for all individuals.

Violations of the Fair Housing Act can result in civil penalties of up to $21,039 for a first offense, with higher penalties for subsequent violations within seven years. Additionally, severe violations can lead to criminal charges and imprisonment for up to 10 years.


Training And Education For Leasing Teams And Property Managers


Legal Requirements

Property managers and leasing teams must receive regular fair housing training to guarantee compliance with fair housing laws. Training should be provided at least once a year and address critical subjects relevant to fair housing compliance, such as protected classes, reasonable accommodations, and managing discrimination complaints.


Benefits Of Training

Regular fair housing training enables property managers and leasing teams to remain up to speed on fair housing rules and laws, improve their knowledge and understanding of fair housing principles, and build the skills and competencies required to effectively execute fair housing policies.


Fair Housing Training Programs

Fair housing training programs include the following topics:


Overview Of Fair Housing Laws

Training programs give an overview of fair housing laws in the United States, including Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Act California and its revisions, as well as state and municipal fair housing laws.


Understanding Protected Classes

The training covers the many protected groups under the Fair Housing Act and explains how to avoid discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status, and disability.


Reasonable Accommodations And Modifications

Training should educate property managers and leasing teams on their obligations to provide reasonable accommodations and modifications to individuals with disabilities, as well as how to do so successfully.


Available Resources And Training Providers


Government Agencies And Organizations

Property managers and leasing teams can use fair housing training tools and programs provided by government agencies such as HUD, as well as fair housing organizations and advocacy groups.


Fair Housing Training Programs

Coggno provides fair housing training and certifications curated exclusively for property managers and leasing teams. These training programs cover a wide variety of topics like the California fair employment and housing act and give significant insights and information on best practices for ensuring fair housing in leasing and property management.


Legal Resources And Consulting Services

Property managers and leasing teams may also seek legal resources and consulting services from legal professionals and fair housing specialists to get individualized advice and help on fair housing compliance and other legal concerns.


Fair Housing Certifications

Fair housing certifications may set property managers apart from rivals by demonstrating a dedication to fair housing compliance and expertise in the property management sector.


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Abide By Fair Housing Act: It Benefits Everyone

Now that you’re aware of the Fair Housing Act be sure you follow it closely while letting out your property. Check with local and state acts, and strive to treat all possible tenants with dignity and fairness. It’s the respect that builds strong relationships and stronger communities that stand together.

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