When you sit down with a potential new tenant, there are inevitably dozens of questions running through your mind. What does this person do for a living? Do they have a family? Are they reliable with paying their rent each month? Do they have pets?
But as your questions pile up, it’s easy to spiral out of control. Amidst a casual conversation about a person’s background, it’s easy to forget that there are legal limits on what you can ask. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends avoiding these questions:
– Where are you from? This question is hard not to ask – after all it’s such a common icebreaker! But the Federal Fair Housing Act prevents landlords to ask about an applicant’s ethnic background, and it’s easy to interpret this question as an inquiry about a person’s nation of origin.
– How old are you? This question is kind of rude, but it’s also illegal. You can’t ask, since the answer could be used to discriminate against the tenant.
– Do you have any kids? This is another familiar icebreaker type of question, but one you should definitely avoid! Again, if you ask this question and choose not to approve this tenant, you could be accused of discrimination.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management