Rental Housing Discrimination: How ignorance of the law can cost you dearly!
For anyone thinking about becoming a DIY rental property manager, here’s a piece of FREE professional advice: Understand Maryland’s rental property the laws first! TREU is a rental management group in Columbia MD that specializes in all aspects of rental property management. And based on our experience, we’ve seen that the law around fair housing is one of the biggest challenges for many newcomers into the rental management business. Sometimes it’s easy to blur the lines between what’s “fair” and what’s not, so we’ll touch upon a few key elements to help you get started.
Simple, Yet So Complex!
One would think that you don’t need a PhD in English literature to understand what’s “fair” and what’s not. All that’s need is to look up the meaning of the word “fair”, and that should give first-time rental property managers a good idea of how to navigate Maryland’s housing discrimination laws – right?
If you work with real estate professionals from Aberdeen, Colombia, Bethesda, or Washington, or partner with rental management companies in Harford County Maryland, or Germantown or anywhere else in the State – one thing is for certain: They’ll tell newcomers that discerning between fair housing activity is likely a very sensitive subject – one whose magnitude is not fully explained by a single sentence definition in a dictionary.
What the Laws Say
Maryland’s state government mandates fair housing practices under §§ 20-101;20-704;20-705 of the State Code. Residing in various types of rental housing, such as low-rise condominiums, high-rise apartments, or coop-owned townhouses, might confer various rights to tenants. However, the one common right that every tenant – regardless of type of housing – is entitled to, is that of non-discrimination by landlords and property managers in any housing activity.
If you work with a rental management group in Columbia MD, they’ll advise you of the same rights as a property manager in Washington, or Aberdeen: That, as a manager of rental units, it’s extremely important that you understand the laws around the implications of fairness and non-discriminatory actions in your dealings with tenants and renters. In Maryland, understanding and following those can, however, be challenging.
So, why must Maryland rental housing managers and landlords exercise extra diligence when it comes to understanding “fairness” under the law? It’s because tenants in Maryland enjoy double layers of protection against housing discrimination.
Firstly, the Federal Fair Housing Act grants protection to several classes of renters and tenants, including:
- Familial status
- National origin
As a property manager, the law forbids any action against current or prospective tenants on these seven basis. But there are additional protections granted by the Maryland Fair Housing Act, which also bars discrimination on the following three grounds:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Marital status
A “simple” act, such as posting a rental ad that encourages only a certain class of renters to apply, might put you on the wrong side of State and Federal fair housing laws. So, before you think of DIY, reach out to rental management companies in Harford County Maryland and find out what else you should be aware of. Remember: Ignorance of a law does not condone breaking it – you’re likely to get just as harsh a penalty as a veteran property manager.