When you’re on the hunt for a new apartment, you likely have a list of questions to ask each property manager every time you take a tour:
“How much are utilities?
“Do you allow pets?
“What are the lease terms?
“Do any teenaged kids live here?”
“Are there any churches nearby?
“Is this a safe area?”
These are just a few examples of the questions our leasing agents are asked every day. And while we certainly do our best to answer every question our prospective residents might have, if a question infringes on the Fair Housing Act laws, we legally aren’t allowed to provide an answer.
Let us explain:
According to the Fair Housing Act, Federal Fair Housing Law prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or family status. As long you as you meet the property requirements for income, credit, employment, and background checks, property managers cannot turn you down for an apartment rental, nor can they refuse to show you an apartment. Likewise, it’s also illegal to advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on those protected classes, and that includes how we answer certain questions
At Springs Apartments, we take these laws very seriously, and are committed to offering equal housing opportunities to anyone who might be interested in our communities. We do not to discriminate based on your skin color, race, religion, sex, disability, or marital status, and we also don’t influence prospective residents unjustly. There are federally protected classes, and there may be different state and local classes as well. We understand the importance of treating every applicant equally, and our property managers are very careful not to show any preferences.
That being said, our property managers have been trained to use extra caution when answering questions from prospective residents. If there’s any chance our answers might be misconstrued to show preference towards or discriminate against any protected classes, we won’t provide a direct answer. It’s not because we’re trying to be difficult, we just legally aren’t allowed to do so
Now, let’s get down to real life – the six questions listed above that we are often asked. The first three you should expect to have answered. We can give you a general idea of what your utilities might be, but of course can’t guarantee it because it depends on your usage. We can tell you what pets we allow. We certainly will give you the lease terms.
The second three fall under those areas we cannot answer. Rather than recommending a church, your leasing agent might direct you to ChurchFinder.com, where you can find an answer for yourself. If you ask if it is a safe neighborhood the leasing agent will likely recommend that you check with the local police department. Finally, if you ask if there are any teens on site, the leasing team member will probably say something like “we lease to anybody who is qualified.” Though it’s often frustrating and inconvenient, it’s the only way we can legally provide an answer for you.
To learn more about the protections offered by the Fair Housing Act and your rights as a renter, please visit the United States Department of Justice website.
If you have any questions for the Springs Apartments team regarding the Fair Housing Act, please feel free to reach out to us to learn more.