Arizona Fair Housing Act: An Overview
Landlords and tenants in Arizona are protected by the Fair Housing Act. This helps landlords treat renters equally, ensuring tenants are protected from discrimination. Understanding the fair housing law helps landlords be consistent with their process beginning with their marketing until the end of the tenant’s lease.
If you are renting out your property in Arizona, get MULTIfamily Property Management is here to help! We have put together this article to guide you in complying with the fair housing act and share how you can abide by it.
Federal Fair Housing Act
The Arizona Fair Housing laws were created to give all people equal housing opportunities whether they respect or break their lease. These opportunities apply to buyers, renters and those looking to rent out their homes.
The act was established to prevent housing discrimination and housing discrimination complaints while providing fair housing options to all home seekers and raise awareness on their rights. This act also allows landlords to avoid paying expensive penalty fees for fines, punitive damages, and attorney fees.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development hosts programs that provide assistance for housing and community development. They also make sure all individuals have fair and equal housing occasions, the department also resolves housing discrimination complaints.
The Protected Classes
According to federal law, housing discrimination is illegal based on these protected classes:
Color or Race
It is illegal to treat renters differently because of their actual or perceived race or because they are multiracial.
It is also illegal to discriminate against those who are related to or associated with someone of a different race or color.
You will be considered non compliant in Arizona, if your marketing materials contain words that suggest you have tenant preference based on religion. An example of this is advertising the rental as “perfect accommodation for Christians”.
When renting out your property, you are following the law if you don’t display any preferential treatment based on the tenant’s national origin. To act otherwise would be considered housing discrimination.
Common mistakes here include a landlord treating a tenant differently because of their accent or spoken language.
You cannot base the availability of your space on the prospective tenant’s sex. You must give every gender a fair housing choice. An example is when you direct a female tenant to a specific unit because you think it’s safer for them or if you refer a male tenant to a specific floor or house because you think they can help you in safeguarding the property.
You also cannot deny housing to someone based on their gender. You are not allowed to, for example, have a preference for a male tenant.
Familial status refers to the family composition, including those that have young children. As a landlord, you cannot prefer tenants who don’t have children over those with toddlers. For example, you are legally not allowed to deny families or pregnant people who are seeking housing for the simple reason that they have children. This class is not only limited to those who have children but also protects pregnant women.
Landlords cannot deny housing based against differently abled individuals and direct them to a different unit that you think can better accommodate them. You must show them your available units or houses and let them decide.
By law, you are required to provide reasonable accommodations or modifications for tenants with disabilities. For example, reasonable accommodations for wheelchair accessible housing would include wheelchair ramps, shower bars, among other things.
Local or State Laws
Aside from the federal fair housing law, you must also be well-versed with your state and local laws. Depending on your property’s location, it may be considered illegal to discriminate tenants against the following:
- Sexual orientation
- Criminal history
- Marital status
- Gender identity
- Age – young adults, elderly
- Source of income
Before listing or marketing your property, make sure you understand tenants’ rights when it comes to fair housing practices.
Fair Housing Act Exemptions
There are exemptions to the Fair Housing Act. These possible exemptions may not apply to private property owners renting out the property. So it is always best to reach out to HUD if you have clarifications to remain compliant.
The following are the possible exemptions to the law:
If you own a property with fewer than four units in total, you are exempt from the fair housing laws.
Local Law Occupancy
Depending on the laws the occupancy standards set, you can limit the occupancy to the allowable number of occupants.
If your local rules or state has a maximum occupancy of three individuals, you can include this in your marketing materials and limit occupancy to three people.
Private Clubs or Religions
You can accept tenants who are club or religious members and deny applicants who are not.
Housing Designated As 55+
You are allowed to deny housing to those who are below 55 years old.
How Arizona Landlords Can Provide Fair Housing
The Fair Housing Act applies to all parts of the rental process including marketing, answering inquiries or questions, pricing, screening tenants, accepting applications, providing housing, and renting.
When marketing your space do not include non-discriminatory language on your marketing materials. Specifically, avoid language that discriminates against the protected classes.
As a best practice, focus on highlighting the best features of your rental property rather than your ideal renter.
When addressing questions and inquiries, be truthful and consistent with your answers. If asked about your rental’s availability, eagerly show prospective tenants all your available units.
No matter who is asking for the rental pricing, your answer must be consistent. You cannot adjust the pricing to attract a specific class. You are also not allowed to increase the security deposit for certain tenants and not others.
Screening and Accepting Tenants
When screening tenants do not ask questions that are considered discriminatory. This includes questions surrounding someone’s familial status, or religion before or after they sign the lease.
As a landlord, you have to accept all rental applications from all qualified tenants. You can refuse prospective tenants based on their inability to pay rent. But, do not deny applicants to rent based on the protected classes discussed above.
You must provide comfortable housing to all tenants and conduct repairs and maintenance when needed. It will be considered a legal violation if you evict a tenant because of any of the protected classes. Make sure to read Arizona eviction laws to avoid legal issues.
If you want to ensure that you are compliant with the fair housing rule, contact get MULTIfamily Property Management today. We will assist you in all steps of the rental process and ensure you don’t violate any laws. Get in touch with us today!