HomeVestors Knows That Special Offers To Tenants Need To Follow The Fair Housing Act

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Offering business specials can be a great way to bring in more tenants but beware that these deals can be viewed as discriminatory if they aren’t offered equally to everybody.

Dallas, Texas HomeVestors is the nation’s number one home buying franchise and has helped real estate investors purchase 50,000 properties over the years. The company knows that rental investors or managers of rental property frequently offer discounts and other enticing offers, to lure in new tenants or retain existing tenants. In many cases this could represent a smart business decision but not always a good legal one. Whenever specials are offered there is always the risk of not being in compliance with the Fair Housing Act. This is a federal law, which prohibits any sort of discrimination in selling or renting to anyone based on their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and handicap.

The Fair Housing Act is an extremely grey area of the law, and what constitutes discrimination is not so clear-cut. When offering rental specials, it is often the case that not all prospective tenants will be offered the exact same deal. For example, a rental investor may run a special that offers a waiver for 50% of the security deposit. Now, if a second prospective tenant comes by and isn’t offered the same special deal, they may interpret this as being discriminatory. Odds are no two tenants will fall under the exact same protected class categories across the board in diverse parts of the country. Under such circumstances, a lawsuit may be filed, claiming unequal treatment based on race, color, religion or any of the other protected classes even though the decision to offer one tenant a special offer was purely a business decision.

The easiest way to avoid an infringement on the Fair Housing Act is to treat everyone equally and not modify any special deals such that different people get different versions of the same offer. However, this is not the best way of going about doing business. Every client has different circumstances and situations do arise where some individuals have to be treated differently based on their needs. When running specials, rental investors need to clearly spell out the terms in writing, including circumstances under which the terms could be modified. The offer should have a specific start and end date. Any special back room deals should be clearly documented and signed.

The Fair Housing Act is a well-intentioned piece of legislation, meant to prevent discrimination. Unfortunately, people seeking to gain from the system often misuse this well-intentioned law. For this reason, rental investors must take cautionary steps when offering special deals. As a rule of thumb, everyone should be given the same treatment but in some case individuals need special accommodations. There should be a well-defined, documented set of rules and these same exceptions should be offered to anyone else who meets the same criteria.

About HomeVestors of America Inc.

Dallas-based HomeVestors of America, Inc. is the largest buyer of houses in the U.S., with 50,000 houses bought since 1996. HomeVestors trains and supports its independently owned and operated franchisees that specialize in buying and rehabbing residential properties. Most commonly known as the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” company, HomeVestors strives to make a positive impact in each community. In 2012, for the seventh consecutive year, HomeVestors was among the prestigious Franchise Business Review’s “Top 50 Franchises,” a distinction awarded to franchisors with the highest level of franchisee satisfaction. For more information, visit www.HomeVestors.com.

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