2017 Real Estate Highlights

Looking ahead is always exciting. As we look ahead to the new year, it is important to look back at 2017 and learn from its lessons. The news cycle at the end of the year was dominated by sexual harassment charges.

Hollywood, Politics, News, Sports, etc. were all filled with stories of misconduct. Allegations against many combined with #MeToo stories sparked the biggest national conversation on sexual harassment. Politicians were asked to resign. Television personalities were fired. Movie releases were halted. Highly regarded individuals’ reputations were marred due to their misconduct.

According to online dictionary sexual harassment is harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks. As defined by the United States’ equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex.” Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Housing discrimination where an individual or family is treated unequally when buying, renting, leasing, selling or financing a home based on characteristics such as race, class, sex, religion, national origin, and familial status is against the law.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed 1) the refusal to sell or rent to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; 2) discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in the terms, conditions or privilege of the sale or rental; 3) advertising the sale or rental indicating preference of discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin; 4) coercing, threatening, intimidating, or interfering with a person’s enjoyment or exercise of housing rights based on discriminatory reasons or retaliating against a person or organization that aids or encourages the exercise or enjoyment of fair housing rights.
In 1988, disability and familial status (the presence or anticipated presence of children under 18) were added. In more recent years sexual orientation has also been added to the list.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the department with the statutory authority to administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has delegated fair housing enforcement and compliance activities to HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) and HUD’s Office of General Counsel.

Landlord and property managers must be aware of these federal, state and local laws. That is why having policies that deal with tenants fairly and equally will not only provide equal opportunity to all but also reduce the risks of lawsuits.

A pile of books and a judge's gavelRental application processing and house rules are two areas where some of the exposures lay. It is imperative to have an application approval process that is based on creditworthiness, rental history and income. Housing rules should never reduce or limit the use of a property for any tenants. As you look ahead to 2018, look back at all of your policies to ensure fair housing laws are followed. For more information and other helpful tips, please contact us at New Bridge Management.