Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Preferences Are Troublesome, Even if Implied

Apartment advertisements can run afoul of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) if they show a preference for a certain type of tenant — even if that preference is implied.

A Buffalo, New York landlord just learned this lesson after placing a Craigslist ad for an apartment in a "nice Irish neighborhood." He didn't write "Irish only" (clear discrimination) or "Irish preferred" (direct preferential discrimination), but his decision to use the language he did implies he would give tenants of a certain national origin, people of Irish descent, favorable treatment. Stated differently, people reading the ad who aren't of Irish descent may feel discouraged from applying, expecting that they wouldn't be welcome.

According to a report today from The Buffalo News, the landlord, without admitting liability, signed a settlement agreement with the New York State Division of Human Rights agreeing to pay $1,000 for the alleged bias in his ad.

Interesting to note:
  • While under investigation for the offending ad, the landlord reportedly made discriminatory statements to testers in violation of the FHA's ban on race and familial-status discrimination. One white tester claims the landlord told her "there are no coloreds here... I hope your husband isn't black," and two testers reported that the landlord asked about their children.

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