The Alabama Fair Housing Act was established to provide every American in Alabama an equal opportunity to look for a place to live. To do so without being singled out due to reasons that are out of their control.

All individuals and institutions involved in housing, including sellers, landlords, property managers, banking and financial institutions, agents, insurance companies, real estate brokers, mortgage providers, appraisers, and others should conduct their business in accordance with this law.

As a landlord, you certainly will have to understand the law which is why we at the Level Property Management Group has put together the following article:

Creation of The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act works with the landlord-tenant laws and aims to protect individuals and entities involved in any housing transaction from being discriminated against. Additionally, this law was created to protect individuals who are susceptible to discriminatory practices due to factors that they cannot control.

Many attempts to create a law providing equal housing opportunities to all Americans have been made since the mid-1800s. But it was only when the 1960s Civil Rights movement took place when any real change happened.

After the first few attempts at creating legislation to counter discrimination, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 became revolutionary when it got made into a law one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Protected Classes Under the Fair Housing Act

As an Alabama landlord, it’s important to get a good grasp of what the Fair Housing Act covers to avoid making judgments based on preconceived opinions. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on the seven protected classes:

  • Race: You must avoid denying applicants based on race and ethnicity.
  • Color: It is considered discriminatory to deny someone a housing opportunity after seeing that they’re a person of color.
  • Religion: This class covers the practice and non-practice of religion. It is illegal to evict your tenant because they engage in religious rituals or practices.
  • Sex: Treating an applicant differently because of their gender or gender expression is prohibited by law. Exemption to this rule is when you’re renting out a shared living space or dormitory.
  • Disability: You cannot refuse housing to a differently abled renter or require a higher security deposit should they have an assistance animal.
  • Familial Status: Meaning having children under 18 in a household, including pregnant women. Establishing different terms or conditions in home selling or renting to a family with minor children is prohibited by this law.
  • National Origin: Providing different housing accommodations or amenities to applicants because of their national origin is illegal.

It is essential to know what is considered discriminatory under the Fair Housing Law. Treat all prospective tenants equally. The Fair Housing Act protects both you and your tenants. Use it as a guide when consequences need to be given to renters who breached the lease agreement, or for other valid, non-discriminatory reasons.

Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act

The below groups may be exempt from the following Fair Housing Act:

  • Sale or lease of single-family homes without using a licensed broker
  • Owner-occupied homes with four units or less
  • Private organizations or clubs that are exclusive to their registered members only

How Landlords Can Avoid Discrimination

As a landlord, it is important to know the Fair Housing Act by heart to avoid unintentionally committing violations and end up paying the price.

Housing discrimination can be very subtle and you may not be aware that you are already violating the Fair Housing Act. Even if your actions are well-intended, it is considered discriminatory against tenants just the same.

It is necessary that you understand your legal obligations as a landlord and consistently apply it to all tenants. The following are some helpful tips to remain compliant with the Fair Housing Act:

  • Be consistent: Tenant screening should be done the same way every time and all the steps should be applied to every applicant each time. Property maintenance should be provided to every existing renter. Similarly, the same consequences should be applied to every tenant who violates the lease agreement.
  • Be fair: Fairness to tenants must be applied at all stages of the renter-landlord relationship, not just during the application. Treat every tenant equally and professionally.
  • Be impartial: Make objective decisions and base your lease agreement within the Fair Housing Act. Document your rental decisions. Keep a record of all application documents and request them from all applicants.
  • Be inclusive. Advertise your rental properties to everyone. Market your rental property to all interested applicants, regardless of whether they belong to the protected categories or not. Be honest when answering inquiries and be transparent about the property’s availability.

Bottom Line

The Alabama Fair Housing Act is an important piece of legislation that all Alabama landlords must understand. So, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

It’s a fantastic idea to partner with the Level Property Management Group and let us manage your property in compliance with this law. We can prevent any unnecessary fines and unintentional violations and contact us today!

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regard to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.