Let’s talk about California’s fair housing laws. It’s astonishing how easy it is for Pleasanton landlords to make mistakes when they’re advertising vacancies. First, we’ll talk to you about the actual law and some best practices around that law. Then, we’ll share some cringe-worthy examples of fair housing violations that we pulled from Craigslist rental ads.
Advertising Pleasanton Rental Homes
Independent landlords discriminate all the time, and we’d like to help you avoid that.
To remain in compliance with California’s fair housing laws (which are stricter than federal fair housing laws), you’ll want to focus on the features of the property and not who the property would be good for. Remain inclusive. Do not say the property is “close to churches” or “perfect for retirees.” Do not say that “children are not allowed.”
According to the California Association of Realtors (CAR), you cannot use “words, images, or symbols that imply or explicitly indicate preference for, limitation to, or discrimination against, persons based on their protected characteristics in advertisement.” Those protected characteristics are:
- Familial status or marital status
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Gender or gender expression
- Source of income
- Medical condition or genetic information
- Citizenship or immigration status
- Primary language
- Veteran/military status
Here’s an important part of fair housing and advertising: discrimination does not have to be intentional. If you use a word or a phrase or a picture and a reasonable person would see it as discriminatory, you’ve violated a fair housing law.
Best Practices in Advertising Pleasanton Rental Homes
There is no set list of prohibited words. That’s because language is always evolving. You’ll have to use your best judgment, avoid anything that even causes hesitation, and focus on inclusive language that does not call attention to any specific class of people.
Think about the models you use in your advertising as well. According to CAR, human models should be diverse, showing people of all backgrounds.
All of your marketing should easily promote the idea that your property is available to everyone who is qualified to rent it. Always display the FHA fair housing logo on your listings and ads.
Craigslist Examples of What NOT to Do
Some of the problematic ads are obviously problematic and others are more subtle.
One ad we found on Craigslist identified a property for rent as “perfect for families with children going to schools.” This might not seem like a big deal. But, it’s a problem. According to fair housing laws, it’s discriminatory because it highlights one specific class of tenants.
Another Craigslist ad says that rental amount is “based on a 3 adults 4-student maximum occupancy.” There are several problems with this ad. First, it’s inferring that only adults are welcome. Second, it seems to be inviting college students only to apply.
These are just two examples. We can always find listings that make us worry about independent landlords and the fair housing violations they so blatantly fall into.
Don’t make this mistake. It’s expensive and damaging to your reputation.
Professional Pleasanton property managers like APMS know all the fair housing rules. We understand the importance of written qualifying criteria, and we provide it to prospective tenants before they apply. We embrace nondiscriminatory language and we make sure you and your property are in compliance with federal and state fair housing laws.
Whether you have questions or know you need immediate help, please contact us at Advantage Property Management Services.