This article is transcribed from Episode 16 of The Accidental Landlord. Listen to the full episode here.
Today, Steven Katz is joining us! Katz is an attorney who has had experience as a landlord, both with his own rental properties and in his practice. Tell our listeners a bit about you.
As you mentioned, I'm an attorney. I am from Columbus, Ohio. I grew up here and lived here. I went to undergrad at Ohio State University. Then I went to law school at Capital Law School, which is also local. I founded my firm.
Our practice primarily focuses on real estate law and contracts.
I understand you own a rental property as well. How did that come to happen?
My father has a property management business, so when I was in high school, I started working for him. I got involved in the real estate business from a pretty young age. Then, in 2009 - 2010 I got my real estate license and started working formally for him.
Tell us a bit about your practice. Do you mainly defend landlords or tenants?
I would say it is fairly even. Maybe it can lean a little bit more on the landlord's side. However, it's pretty balanced.
What main things does a landlord need to know about fair housing law?
I think almost everyone knows the basic things about fair housing. However, they are not aware of the complete picture. The most frequent violations I see that most surprised the landlords are situations where people don't realize that they discriminate against somebody's race, culture, sex, or religion.
One example I handled a couple of years back was a situation where a gentleman and his family were trying to rent a multi-unit apartment complex. They were touring the property, and the owner commented about cooking with certain spices because the family was from India and how it would probably bother other tenants.
Now, in the owner's mind, he didn't think he was being offensive. In his mind, he felt that he was looking out for his other tenants. However, he was being discriminatory. Afterward, the family felt uncomfortable. The owner reached out to our company and was a little sensitive about the topic. Because, in his mind, he didn't do it to harm anybody, so he felt like he couldn't express his thoughts anymore. It becomes a problem when you assume that they will do certain things because of somebody's background.
What happens when someone makes a fair housing complaint?
The answer to that is pretty complex. If I have a client who is either on the owner side or the tenant side who feels that has been discriminated against, I would usually start with what is called a demand letter.
If you want to learn more about how fair housing laws work and how to resolve a problem like this, listen to the complete episode here.