As we have reviewed many times on this blog, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects individuals from housing discrimination based on their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability or familial status. Additionally, some states and localities include additional protected classes in their laws, such as source of income or sexual orientation. But there is more to the FHA than just those protected classes.
Advertising is also protected under the FHA. This provision in the statute makes it unlawful to prepare, print, or publish discriminatory statements in any type of media. For example, if a management company were to put the statement “no children allowed” in an advertisement for an apartment community which is published in a newspaper, magazine or even over the internet, that could well be considered discriminatory advertising as it would act to limit the housing choices of families with children.
Cases interpreting the FHA have made clear that anyone who acts on behalf of the landlord can also be held liable for housing discrimination. This includes people such as the owner, management company, property management company employees, maintenance staff members, and real estate agents as well as anyone else who is acting on behalf of the landlord seeking tenants.
Think nobody is paying attention to apartment community advertisements? Think again. Many fair housing testers specifically look for advertisements with potentially questionable content and then they file a case with HUD. And then you have to defend against it.
Yet another reason to follow the law.
Just A Thought.