FAQs – Tenant Screening And Selection – Part II

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on October 31, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Ques. What kind of discrimination is considered illegal when choosing a tenant?
The Fair Housing Act has been enacted to keep a check on discriminatory practices in the rental housing business. Accordingly, fair housing laws lay down specify rejection of an applicant on the basis of his / her race, religion, ethnic background, gender, or because the applicant is disabled, or has young children, is considered illegal.

As well, certain state and local laws prohibit landlords from discriminating on the basis of a person’s marital status, sexual orientation, or age. As long as, landlord decisions comply with these laws and are based on legitimate business criteria, landlords are at liberty to make their own selection from among prospective tenants. For example, a landlord is entitled to reject any applicant who has a poor credit history, or insufficient income to meet the rental payments, or is he / she has a criminal record, and if an applicant has damaged property in the past, he / she can be considered as a bad risk. As well, a valid occupancy policy that limits the number of people per rental unit, and is clearly tied to health and safety, is also a legal basis for refusing a prospective tenant.

Selection standards, such as, requirement of a minimum income, including a good credit report, must be applied equally to all tenants.

Ques. What sort of subtle actions could be considered illegal discrimination on the part of a landlord?
The Fair Housing Acts prohibit landlords from taking any of the following actions based on race, religion, or any other protected / minority category:

  1. To falsely deny a rental unit to one applicant, while making it available to others.
  2. Group characteristic advertising that indicates a preference based on, perhaps, skin colour, nationality, etc.
  3. More restrictive standards, such as, higher income, for certain tenants.
  4. Refusal to reasonably accommodate the needs of disabled tenants i.e. guide or hearing dog, or other service animal.
  5. Different set of terms used for some tenants, such as, an inconsistent policy for responding to late rent payments, or
  6. Tenancy termination for discriminatory reasons.

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