Fair Housing Tips for Marketing Vacancies Online

rental housing vacancy marketing

Fair Housing Tips for Marketing Vacancies Online

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For landlords and real estate agents, adhering to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) is an integral part of the rental process. While your leasing procedures are certainly saturated with methods to stay FHA compliant, do you use the same caution when communicating with applicants and renters online? In order to avoid any misunderstandings involving your standings with the Fair Housing Act, incorporate these fair housing tips when you market your vacancies online.

In a recent article by the Fair Housing Institute, it was brought to attention the importance of ensuring that answers to rental questions on the telephone do not mislead the applicant to think that the property (or individual) is not following the FHA. For example, if an interested applicant calls and asks if the property or unit is available and you respond that it is, but the next day the vacancy is filled, the caller might assume that you simply didn’t want to rent to them and believe that there is some form of foul play going on.  When, in truth, the situation could simply be that someone else put down a deposit on the property shortly after they called.

To avoid the situation above, the Fair Housing Institute has advised that you make sure that you respond in a way that shows that the property is currently available, but an application could be approved at any moment. Wording it like this eliminates the assumption (on the interested individual’s part) that the property will be vacant the next day, and causes true interested parties to expedite getting you their rental applications and deposit.

While protecting yourself from any FHA complaints by monitoring the way you respond to interested applicants on the phone is important, it’s equally as vital online. Unlike phone conversations, communication online and through text can be easily used against you if you get involved in a FHA lawsuit. Although online messages (or “electronically stored information”) have to uphold a few standards before being admitted as evidence, according to the Law Offices of Andrew D. Meyers, it’s possible that the messages between you and an applicant can be used in court.

The use of emoji’s as evidence is still currently unclear, however, there have been a few cases that have popped up in the past few years that utilized emoji’s to interpret a person’s intent. For example, in 2015, a New York teenager was arrested for terroristic threats after posting a Facebook status with a gun emoji pointed at a police officer emoji. Regardless if you’re emoji shy or not, you should be mindful of any emoji above a smiley face.

Now that you know why watching your words is so important, the question now is what rental questions should you be wary of and how should you word your responses? The Fair Housing Institute highlighted two major topics: your availability and your screening criteria.

Availability

As we mentioned above, it’s important that you phrase all availability questions to show that the property is “currently available, but an application could be approved at any moment.” Even if you don’t use these specific words, it’s vital that you express that the rental availability can quickly change. You don’t want an applicant to think that you won’t accept their application based on discriminatory reasons.

Screening Criteria

As the Fair Housing Institute said, “any contradictions in information may be assumed to be a result of housing discrimination.” If you receive a specific question on your screening criteria (like income restrictions), stick to your written rental criteria. By having written guidelines on what credit score ranges you accept, your income requirements, and etc., you protect yourself later on and provide clear information to the applicant. Use our credit score cheat sheet to make sure you remember your guidelines when you need it.

As landlords and real estate agents, you know that the Fair Housing Act protects renters from facing discrimination when applying, buying, or renting any sort of housing. It prohibits “discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and the presence of children.” While watching the way you word text messages, online communications, and phone conversations can seem taxing, it protects you from incurring a FHA complaint based on a communication misunderstanding.

To get a secure, tenant screening solution, visit https://www.applyconnect.com/ for more information.

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9 Replies to “Fair Housing Tips for Marketing Vacancies Online”

    1. Of course! Fair housing is extremely important to not only our industry, but our readers as well. I hope we can collaborate in the future!

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9 Replies to “Fair Housing Tips for Marketing Vacancies Online”

    1. Of course! Fair housing is extremely important to not only our industry, but our readers as well. I hope we can collaborate in the future!

Leave a Reply

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This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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The nation’s most trusted tenant screening for real estate agents, landlords, and property managers. No cost background checks available 24/7.

©2018 ApplyConnect. All rights reserved

ApplyConnect marks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of applyconnect.com. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.