As a landlord, it is imperative that you understand the Fair Housing Act in Arizona and how you can protect yourself and your property with the help of a property manager.
We live in a world with laws that are put into place for all sorts of reasons. These laws keep our roadways safe, help keep our children safe, and even help with our job security. Regardless of how good or bad you feel a law is, it was put into place to keep balance within our society – and ensure that everyone has an equal right to an opportunity.
As a landlord or rental property owner, there are specific laws that you must follow to allow everyone a fair chance at renting your property. You cannot pick and choose who you want to allow to rent your property, just as a business owner can’t pick and choose who he will let shop in his store.
Does this mean you have to rent to anyone? No.
Does this mean you have to give everyone a fair chance? Yes.
Let’s take a look at the Fair Housing Act and how the State of Arizona uses it to protect you and your property.
History of the Fair Housing Act
The federal Fair Housing Act was enacted with the 1968 Civil Rights Act. It was done so to eliminate discrimination. Before this act, discrimination was running rampant in Arizona and around the country. Kids learned in schools that were segregated by color, and minorities found it nearly impossible to advance in an economic world. Neighborhoods remained separated by racial divide due to the unfair Arizona housing laws.
The Fair Housing Act did not happen overnight. Nobody came up with this grand idea and decided to run with it. Many people fought long and hard for these equal rights. Shelley v. Kraemer is a court case from 1948 that was filed due to minorities being excluded from certain neighborhoods and sections of cities. This was a fight against the housing patterns that were based on race – and popular at the time.
During the civil rights era of our country, many aspects of discrimination were found in legislation. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act became known on its own as the Fair Housing Act. Its purpose was to make it illegal for individuals to be discriminated against based on things such as race, religion, sex, and national origin.
The Fair Housing Act would later be amended to include protection for additional groups, including those who are disabled or based on family status. Currently, the federal law prohibits housing discrimination against anyone based on:
- National Origin
- Familial Status
- Physical or mental disability
The Importance of the Fair Housing Act in Arizona
Housing discrimination laws protect all people, regardless of who they are. As a landlord, these laws are to help guide you so that you do not give unfair treatment to one potential tenant over another. For instance, your tenant screening process should be the same for everyone who applies. And the qualifications that your tenant is required to meet should also be the same. Being consistent, requiring the same documents and fees, and holding each to the same standards is critical.
It should be noted that you cannot:
- Deny someone the opportunity to rent your property.
- Advertise to a specific group.
- Be inconsistent with your qualification standards.
- Harass a tenant.
- Refuse to accommodate someone with disabilities.
- Have an unfair screening process.
Regardless of your personal feelings, you have a property for rent – and everyone must have an equal opportunity to rent it.
Protecting Yourself and Your Property
Whatever you do, you do not want to find yourself in hot water. You do not want to discriminate or insinuate anything – from the first moment of marketing your property until you are moving in a new tenant and beyond. You need to be cognizant of your actions while speaking and behaving in an unbiased manner, no matter who you encounter.
Sometimes, landlords act without looking at the whole picture. It’s easy to do. For instance, if you receive a tenant application for a property from someone who is disabled and in a wheelchair. Would you deny it because it has stairs? After all, how would he or she get upstairs? This is an example of what not to do.
Or what about turning down someone with a service animal because of your no pet policy? This is discrimination, too. If you have someone who helps you with maintenance and he or she picks and chooses whose repairs to do first – this could also be a type of discrimination.
Any time someone feels as though they are being discriminated against, a claim can be filed against you. And each complaint will be reviewed by the Arizona Attorney General Civil Rights Division. Do not find yourself here. By being mindful and knowledgeable of the Fair Housing Act in Arizona, you can avoid these consequences.
A Property Management Company Can Help
Whether you are new to the rental game or are a seasoned landlord, filling a vacancy or working closely with new tenants is always going to make you cautious. You want to do the right thing (hopefully), but one wrong move and you can find yourself under review. It is a lot of stress that most landlords just do not want to deal with.
Leave it to the professionals – property managers who make it their job to know the law and follow it. Inevitably, human error happens. This means if you have a property management team handling your rentals when this poor judgment happens, you are not going to be the one held liable.
The best choice you can make is to hire a property manager with an excellent reputation and a long history of solid, fair housing practice. At Real Property Management Evolve, our team of professionals is well-versed in the Fair Housing Laws in Arizona and makes it a point to follow them. We make sure that your vacancies are filled with the best tenants imaginable – the ones who surpass all qualifications of our non-discriminatory tenant screening.
The Fair Housing Act in Arizona was put in place to ensure that everyone has equal access to the housing available in the market. As a landlord in Arizona, you are required to abide by these laws or face the consequences. Reduce your chance of incidence with a professional property manager.