PROTECTED CLASSES are defined by local ordinance as well as state and federal fair housing guidelines. Landlords, real estate agents AND property managers ALL need to have minimum renting criteria and stick to those guidelines.
Over the weekend, a potential rental applicant said to me: "I'm in a protected class - you cannot "not" rent to me."
To a do-it-yourself landlord or someone who does not have tenant qualification systems in place; or for those that do not know how to properly deny tenants - this statement may scare you enough to rent to that individual because you don't want to land in court for discrimination.
But, I was confident when I said, "You were denied because you do not meet the minimum rental qualifications."
Can I do that? Of course! That's because if I make any exceptions to the tenant qualification standards, I'll be in violation of the Fair Housing Act for singling out certain groups of people for special treatment, also known as discrimination.
To avoid any lawsuits - treat everyone the same and fairly. Just because someone is in a protected class - doesn't mean they don't have to meet the rental standards - they still need income, they still need to pass the background check, etc. But you have to have uniformed standards of qualifications in place, and they must be in writing and stated to each individual who fills out a rental application in order to properly deny someone for those reasons.
If you are afraid or uncertain of how to handle these and other rental situations, it's probably time to hire a property manager. Otherwise, know that it takes more than a working knowledge of the laws - it takes some common sense and a standard set of procedures that you must follow in order to keep yourself protected!
This blog is written with my opinions and my opinions are presented with accuracy but not guarantees. Please talk to a professional before making any real estate, financial or agency decisions. Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind - 2011. If you want to reprint parts of this - just email me for my permission: TucsonsRealEstate@gmail.com.