Key Questions Landlords Cannot Include on Rent Applications

Rental housing is at a 30-year high in the United States, with 36.6 percent of households choosing to rent in 2016. Although the cost of living is quite high in many of the nation’s major cities, the current rental vacancy rate is holding at around 25 percent — a fact that will likely please many landlords who want to keep their units occupied. With millennials and baby boomers leading the growing rental market, property owners and managers across the country aren’t likely to have an overabundance of available apartments for long.

That said, finding the right tenant still has its challenges. Providing a thorough rent application to viable candidates can allow you to pick the right person for your property. However, you’ll need to tread lightly. While it’s understandable that you’d want to learn as much information as possible about a prospective tenant prior to having them sign a lease, there are certain questions you are legally not allowed to ask.

That’s because the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discriminatory behavior when selling or renting a property. You might think that a question or comment you make to a tenant is totally innocent, but if it broaches a subject that’s covered by this legislation, you could be found guilty of violating anti-discrimination laws. To ensure you won’t deal with potential discrimination suits or other litigation down the line, you’ll want to steer clear of the following subjects in applications and during in-person interviews.

Marital status

There’s really no pertinent reason a landlord should ask a prospective tenant about whether they’re married or not. At best, the question is nosy; at worst, asking may make the person feel unsafe. Even making a seemingly innocent comment about noticing an engagement ring is not permissible. All you really need to know is … Read More