Don't Ask About These Details When Renting A Home To Tenants
Buying an investment property, whether it's a traditional house, duplex, townhome, condo, or mobile home, can be a sound financial move. Part of the ease that you'll enjoy when renting a property is having good tenants, and this may compel you to be highly discerning about the tenants you rent your space to. While a landlord has a legal right to ask a variety of questions to a prospective tenant, there are other things that are off-limits. Making the mistake of asking about any of the following details when someone is looking to become a tenant could put you in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
You should never ask about a prospective tenant's ethnicity in any way. This includes making sure that your rental agreement doesn't include any questions about this topic, and that you don't bring it up verbally. Even bringing up someone's ethnicity innocently can be problematic. For example, during a phone conversation with someone calling about your rental unit, you may ask the person's name — and then say, "That's an interesting name. Where are its origins?" Even if you aren't discriminating, if you fail to accept the person's rental application, he or she may feel that this decision was made based on his or her ethnicity.
It's also illegal to ask a prospective tenant about his or her sexual orientation. Whether you're talking in person or over the phone, make sure to stay away from this topic. Asking if the person is married, is considering getting married, and other such questions, can all relate too closely to inquiring about a prospective tenant's sexual orientation. If the person feels that you're discriminating against him or her because of any details that are revealed, you could face legal repercussions.
If you ask about a prospective tenant's physical limitations, you may do so innocently. For example, you might say that the hallway of the house is narrow and might not be suitable for someone who needs to use a wheelchair. However, if you don't accept the person's rental application after you learn about someone's physical limitations, he or she could have legal grounds for a discrimination suit. You cannot discriminate against a tenant based on his or her physical limitations of any kind, so make sure that you never bring this topic up. To make sure that you don't break any rules when seeking rental tenants, it's worthwhile to hire a real estate agent who specializes in rental units to help you.