Florida Fair Housing Laws: What Property Owners Need to Know
When vetting prospective tenants for a lease agreement that involves a property that you own, remember that consistency is key. According to Florida’s Fair Housing Laws, all applicants should be given the same consideration and should be treated equally and fairly. To ensure that all applicants are treated consistently, it helps to have a written record of the requirements for approval.
Some of the common requirements professional and experienced property managers in Tampa FL use include:
– meeting a minimum FICO score, – necessitating a minimum amount of income and time of employment, – requiring that the applicant have no record of criminal history, – prior evictions or foreclosurse, – and requiring a maximum weight allowance for pets (with the exception of service animals)
The above example requirements and ones that are similar to these are considered legal by Florida standards. Requirements that are based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability are against the law and can be reported for violation of the Fair Housing Act to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
If a complaint is filed with HUD, they will open an investigation to determine if, in fact, any laws were broken. If after the investigation, HUD finds there is reason to believe that the Fair Housing Act has been violated, the case will be brought to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at an administrative hearing. If the Judge finds that the Fair Housing Act has been violated, the violator may be ordered to compensate the party who filed the claim for damages, provide injunctive or equitable relief, attorney’s fees and costs, and may be penalized for a maximum of $11,000 for the first violation, $27,500 for a second violation within a five year period, and $55,000 for three or more violations within a five year period.
To ensure that your tenant screening processes are in compliance with Fair Housing Laws, it is highly recommended to seek the help of a professional Tampa property manager. At Wise Property Management, our Tampa FL property managers are very knowledgeable with existing tenant/landlord and Fair Housing Laws and are trained to stay abreast of new laws and ordinances that could impact our clients and their leases.