self-managing landlord

How To Advertise Your Property and Maintain Fair Housing Compliance

When it comes to staying compliant with fair housing laws, there is a lot to take into consideration. While many people think fair housing laws mainly impact how you select a tenant or go about the application process, it can also extend to how a self-managing landlord advertises an available rental unit. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you are advertising your property.


Focus on describing the property

It sounds straight forward, but focusing on simply describing the property or rental requirements will help you avoid making mistakes that could potentially violate fair housing laws.

An advertisement for a rental property should focus on information regarding the property and any specific requirements for approval (for example, credit score, background check, or whether or not pets are allowed). By focusing on creating an accurate representation of the available unit, you may be able to avoid some of the most common Fair Housing violations for self-managing landlords.


Don’t indicate your preferences on tenants

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fair Housing law prohibits advertisements for housing that indicate preference, limitation or discrimination against a protected class.

The HUD states that you cannot use language that indicates preferences for the type of tenant that occupies the unit. This can include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, catch words (words and phrases used in a discriminatory context that should be avoided), symbols or logotypes that suggest or imply a protected class, and more.

According to the HUD, it may violate the Fair Housing Act to use graphics, logos or images that would imply a specific protected class is either not welcome, or is preferred over others. It could also violate the Fair Housing Act to use words to describe the landlord (and therefore imply preference to certain types of tenants), or imply that certain groups need not apply due to a preference for other groups.

For example, stating that the unit can only be occupied by one person could potentially violate the Fair Housing Act because it could rule out individuals with children or dependents, or families.

Another common violation is using language to depict a specific lifestyle a landlord may prefer a tenant to have. Describing the rental as being in a “quiet area,” or “perfect for young, single professionals,” may exclude individuals who are not in a specific age range, in a specific field or type of career, or whose lifestyle simply does not match the listed description.


Be mindful of your advertising plan

If a landlord has followed the above by focusing on describing the property rather than their “ideal tenant”, and has ensured the language does not imply a preference towards or exclude any protected classes, they may feel ready to pay for advertising for the unit.

According to the National Association of Realtors, you should be familiar with applicable local and state fair housing laws that may provide broader protections for tenants, and should review your advertisement to ensure that it is compliant. If the advertisement includes images of people, it is in the best interest of the landlord to ensure that it is reflective of the population in the area it is being advertised. Landlords should also include the fair housing logo in each advertisement, or the phrase “Equal Housing Opportunity.”

It is also important to make sure the listing isn’t only being shown to a landlord’s “ideal” tenant. For example, only showing the advertisement to high-income areas, or areas that are predominantly a specific race, religion, or other protected class can be a violation of fair housing. This frequently comes up when advertising online, where you can select specific demographics to show the ad to, while excluding others. When it comes to a rental advertisement, you should avoid excluding or targeting any protected classes.


At Rincon Property Management, we always suggest seeking out professional help when it comes to renting out your home. There can be serious consequences to violating fair housing law, including fines in addition to the cost of legal representation. We recommend seeking out professional management or input if you are not familiar with the local, federal and state laws that impact your rental property. IF you are interested in learning more about how professional management can benefit you, reach out today by visiting our contact page.

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