What Landlords Must Know About ‘Discrimination Claims’

Being a landlord is not easy!

Besides ensuring tenants are available and that they pay the rent on time and that the property is well taken care of, the landlord needs to safeguard his/her interests against diverse threats. If you are a landlord who has little or no idea about tenant discrimination claims, this is the right blog for you! 

Tenant discrimination is an area shrouded with mystery and prone to misconceptions. This is also an area with its fair share of baseless claims too. Poor knowledge or insufficient awareness will give an additional advantage to the claimants. If you are a landlord, it is essential to be aware of the impact of tenant discrimination claims. The costs of settlements can go up to $1 million, which is a big amount for any landlord. 

How to prevent such instances

The tenant discrimination defense is a loss recoupment policy that insurers offer to the landlords to cover massive financial losses that arise from discrimination claims. Discrimination, in any form or sector, is a sensitive issue, and, in most cases, prohibited by law. If you slip up or if someone deliberately tries to malign your reputation and ruin you financially, tenant discrimination insurance will offer protection. 

The general liability coverage, which tends to cover a multitude of threats from property damage to personal injury, is not enough to cover discrimination settlements. You should know this to prevent nasty surprises. (Do talk to your insurer in advance about this coverage to stay protected at all times.) 

What is included in the discrimination claims?

Discrimination, whether it is based on racial, gender, ethnic, or familial status, has no place in a fair and equitable society. Obviously, it’s not appropriate for landlords to discriminate. But even just that isn’t enough. It’s crucial to avoid giving any discriminatory signals in your property advertisements and policies too. Such indirect references may include:

  • False information about the unavailability of the property
  • Create discriminative restrictions for certain groups of tenants
  • Preferences or biases towards specific groups in the advertisements 
  • Differences in terms and conditions based on discrimination
  • Untimely termination of tenure owing to discrimination

All of these may invite lawsuits based on the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and its amended form of 1988. The federal act forbids discrimination based on race, religion, sex, familial status, national background, disabilities against anyone, including children and pregnant women. 

Allegations may also arise through unscrupulous utilization of the law to defame landlords or exhort money from them. 

No worries! You can prevent that too. Scroll on to know, how:

How to keep such claims at arm’s length

From property owners and renters, everyone should be aware of the discrimination claims to prevent unfortunate, or calculative, planned incidents. It will help them take protective measures beforehand, while the insurance being their plan B. 

  • Develop neutral and unbiased rental policies – Mention in clear terms that you are neutral, and the policies that you have created are for everyone, irrespective of backgrounds, racial groups, sex, physical, familial or social status. You can get the policies checked by a legal professional to prevent loopholes that may increase risks. 
  • Perform thorough background checks – Ask for referrals from any new tenant to ensure a clean background. You may need to perform credit checks as well to get an idea about the tenant’s background. If you face any roadblocks, ask questions. See if the person can resolve your queries and satisfy your curiosity. It is best not to let someone with a doubtful background into your property. 
  • Be neutral with advertising – Create a neutral advertising campaign for your rental property. Take care not to include content that supports discrimination or judgment of any kind. Get the content vetted if you must.
  • Improve accessibility of the property premises – It will help people with disabilities move around without much hassle. You should also train your staff to be cooperative and useful. The idea is to leave no stone unturned to ensure their comfort and convenience. 
  • Do not pass judgments – Last but not least, refrain from making any comment, direct or indirect, which can be mistaken as judgment. 

Discrimination is illegal and should be prohibited in all sectors. However, not all actions intend to be discriminative, and unaware landlords may fall prey to such instances. Should that happen, tenant discrimination insurance will help cover the expenses of lawsuits. While getting the insurance is by no means a license to discriminate freely, it will definitely help reduce financial losses in case of mistakes or exploitation attempts.