With the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) recent housing study shedding new light on the future face of the Multifamily Industry, you should start re-strategizing who you market your rental to. According to the study, the MBA predicts that by 2024 between 13.9 million and 15.9 million additional households will be formed, with 12.3 to 12.9 million households age 60 and older. Alongside the projected surge of Hispanic and Millennial owners and tenants, the MBA expects that if the current post-recession trends hold, you’ll see a lot more Baby Boomer applicants over the next 10 years. This aligns with the Administration of Aging’s predictions as well, insisting that by 2040, the population of seniors ages 65+ is expected to grow 21.7% of the total population (whereas in comparison 14.1% of the population were 65+ in 2013). Despite the apparent growth in senior tenants, the process of looking for a home can be difficult for the elderly. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, using age as grounds for making a rental decision is unfortunately notoriously common.
As you know, the Fair Housing Act “prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or handicap”. Regardless of age, and any other identifiers, everyone should be treated equally.
While many seniors do not take action even if they believe a rental decision was based on discriminatory or biased reasons, some seniors (along with elderly advocate organizations) have had a history of fighting against ageist rental decisions. In 2004, according to the New York Times, a San Antonio retirement community was sued by former residents because they had “evicted more than 20 tenants who were deemed disabled or who needed home health care”. Many landlords during this time were controversially using leases that had a condition that allowed tenancy as long as the individual was “independent” and they were therefore evicting elderly tenants who seemed to have a decline in independence. Although age is not explicitly covered by the Fair Housing Act, disabilities are and anyone who has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such impairment” is protected. This means they have a right to request for reasonable accommodations and modifications, like installing grab bars in the bathroom.
With the upcoming housing boom, this is a chance to take advantage of the new market and place long-lasting, good tenants into your rental. Whether your applicant is 67 years old or 23 years old, part of the LGBT community or someone with a disability, by using the objective data from your tenant screening report to make your important rental decisions, you’ll steer clear from subconsciously making discriminatory decisions. That’s just one less thing to think about.
How do you stay away from forming biased rental habits? Do you know of anyone who’s had to deal with rental discrimination? Tell us in the comment section below.