Dear Fair Housing Lady,
My owner doesn’t want to rent to folks who have Section 8 vouchers. I am not sure I agree with that opinion, but more importantly, I don’t want to get into fair housing trouble! And now my owner has placed an ad that says “No Section 8.” Is this even a fair housing issue? I’m sweating here (and my property is not even in a hot weather area)!
Anxious Leasing Manager
Oh, my. I may not be able to mitigate that anxiety of yours because the answer to your question whether not accepting Section 8 is a fair housing issue is this (drum roll, please)…IT DEPENDS! (And here you came to me for some concrete direction.) It is not that I am trying to be difficult or avoid your question, but the answer really is “it depends.” And what it depends on is where your particular apartment community is located. Is your community in a state, city, county, or township that has made “Source of Income” a protected class? If that is the case, then the answer is “maybe” – if Section 8 has been deemed to be a source of income then yes, this is a fair housing issue and you must accept vouchers (and you can’t advertise that you won’t). If your community is in a state, city, county, or township that has actually made “Section 8” a protected class, then of course you must accept vouchers (if the prospects otherwise qualify). But if your community is in a state, city, county or township that has not addressed source of income or Section 8 as protected classes in housing, then you need not accept the vouchers and you may advertise that you don’t.
So, time to grab a towel, wipe off that sweat, and get to work by calling the attorney who assists your owner, or your local apartment association, or even your local fair housing organization, and find out what if any protections are in place (state and local) for where your community is located. Then conform your policies and procedures and advertising to be in compliance with state and local laws.
Fair Housing Lady is the alter-ego of Nadeen Green, Senior Counsel with For Rent Media SolutionsTM. While that makes her our attorney, she is not yours, so her information is not legal advice for you. She would love to have your questions for future newsletter appearances (so she doesn’t have to make the questions up, which is just extra work), so send them to [email protected].