As industry professionals know, the federal government has enacted various rules and regulations to protect individuals from discriminatory practices. In real estate, the most prominent of these regulations is the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against property buyers.
As a real estate professional, it’s crucial that you and any team members or contractors you hire follow these rules as closely as possible, and keep up-to-date on any additions or changes to the act. Here are some approaches Forbes Real Estate Council members recommend in order to ensure continued compliance and avoid problems.
1. Review Government Publications On The Matter
Review government publications on the matter. All—and I mean all—of the information you need is at your fingertips. Use Google to your advantage. If you have a special circumstance, call a lawyer versed in housing law to guide you through the situation. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties / Matrix Properties
2. Make Sure To Know All Of The Protected Classes
Most people know about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but most people don’t know that at the same time, the Fair Housing Act, made it illegal to discriminate against buyers or renters of a different race, color, religion and national origin. In 1974, gender was added to that list, followed by disability and familial status in 1988. In 2017, sexual orientation and gender identity were added. – Chris Ryan, Beyond Properties Group (eXp Realty)
3. Apply The Rules To Your Digital Presence, Too
Make it part of your policy to review the Fair Housing Act rules online and pay attention to cases in the news. It is important to remember that these rules don’t only apply to in-person situations, but we are seeing their impact in the digital world as Facebook faces charges for their targeting advertising system. – Joshua Lybolt, Lifstyl Real Estate
4. Take A Course
Facebook ads slipped into practices of steering based on their choice of targeted demographics. HUD’s webpage keeps up with current news and challenges like this in Fair Housing Compliance. Also, the National Center for Housing management has an online course called Fair Housing Essentials. Both aid new sales people in learning where the lines are.- Kristin Geenty, The Geenty Group
5. Provide And Encourage Education
The best way to keep up to date is to make sure your employees educate themselves so they know the rules. Make sure you include all the FHA rules in onboarding, and in your employee manual when you hire someone. Also, make sure they are attending the training academy to stay current on the rules. – Engelo Rumora, List’n Sell Realty
6. Start With A Checklist
Having a checklist is a good start. Then having someone in charge of compliance to review all ads to ensure no mistakes are made. With the new lawsuits facing Facebook, and how cloudy the application of the Fair Housing Act has become, going as far as a team training session, and having someone think about the broader implications to ensure there is no accidental discrimination is smart, too. – Kent Clothier, Real Estate Worldwide