Question: I recently read an article saying that the largest fair housing settlement in Arizona was just reached between a landlord and a tenant. I would never intentionally discriminate against someone, but I am still concerned. What is the best way to protect myself?
Answer: When it comes to fair housing, there is no quick fix that can protect you from potential liability. A landlord must always be conscious of their obligation to treat all applicants and tenants equally. To protect against fair housing violations, there are some basic procedures you can employ. First, you should have a written policy as to the standards you require a tenant to meet before you rent to him. For example, if you only allow two persons per bedroom in your properties, this standard should be readily available to applicants to avoid discrimination claims based upon familial status. Second, when tenants ask for an accommodation or modification based upon a disability, it’s necessary that you determine whether the request is reasonable. If reasonable, the request should generally be granted. If unreasonable, then the landlord must engage in the “interactive process” and determine whether there is an accommodation or modification that they could do which would work for both landlord and tenant. Too many landlords do not engage in the interactive process after summarily determining a request is unreasonable.
Information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. You should always contact an attorney for legal advice and not rely on information published here.