Every American who applies for housing has a right to fair and equal treatment. The act was passed by Congress to ensure landlords, lenders, and home sellers don’t engage in discriminatory practices. 

An example of a discriminatory practice is showing preference or limitation to a prospective tenant based on their race, color, or any other protected class. 

As a landlord, it’s important you familiarize yourself with this act to avoid potential discrimination claims from tenants. The following is everything you need to know about the Fair Housing Act in Arkansas. 

A Brief History of the Fair Housing Act 

The Fair Housing Act is also known as the Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. It came about as a result of the Civil Rights Act. It was passed in 1968 when race-based discrimination was occuring with regard to housing.   

The act banned discrimination based on four protected classes: race, color, religion, and nationality.

Who Is Prohibited From Engaging in Housing Discrimination?

The Fair Housing Act bans discrimination by the following housing providers. 

  • Landlords
  • Insurance providers
  • Homeowner associations
  • Mortgage lenders and brokers
  • Real estate agents
  • Developers
  • Property owners and managers

professional property manager

What Are the Protected Classes Under the Arkansas Fair Housing Act?

The 1968 Fair Housing Act protected renters and home buyers from discrimination based on four protected classes. That is, race, color, religion, and nationality. More protections were added to the list in subsequent years to bring the total number of protected classes to seven.  

  • Race 
  • Color
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status
  • Disability 

The following are examples of practices that would be deemed discriminatory as per the FHA. 

  • Refusing to rent to a tenant based on any of the protected classes. 
  • Charging tenants belonging to a protected class higher rent, security deposit, or other fees. 
  • Steering a tenant away from your property based on the color of their skin or any other protected characteristic. 
  • Having a different lease agreement for different tenants.
  • Refusing to rent to a tenant who relies on public assistance. 
  • Refusing or failing to make reasonable modifications or accommodations for tenants living with a disability. 
  • Retaliating against your tenant for reporting you for discrimination against them. 
  • Creating rules that treat tenants with families differently than those without children. 
  • Refusing to rent to a tenant for any reason other than the prospective tenant not being able to pass your stated screening process. 
  • Failing to handle maintenance requests properly and/or in a timely manner for all tenants. 

family in bedroom

What Are the Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act?

The following are the exemptions to the Fair Housing Act. 

  • Single-family homes as long as the owner doesn’t own more than 3 homes at any particular time. In addition, the owner must not use brokers to rent out the property. 
  • A dwelling with a maximum of four units and where the owner occupies one of the units. 
  • Homes for the elderly. These are exempt from discrimination based on familial status. 
  • Homes operated by religious or private clubs which limit membership on various grounds. 

How Is the Fair Housing Act Enforced?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency tasked with implementing and enforcing the Fair Housing Act. It works in conjunction with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity which has 10 regional offices spread all over the country. 

In the state of Arkansas, the state’s Attorney General is responsible for the enforcement of the act. 

How Can You Protect Yourself Against Fair Housing Violations?

As a landlord, you can stay compliant with the Fair Housing Act by doing any of the following things. 

  • Having consistent policies that ensure equal and fair treatment of all tenants. 
  • Screening tenants properly and only denying an application based on failing to meet your stated selection criteria. 
  • Not showing limitation or favoritism to tenants based on protected classes. 
  • Drafting proper rental advertisements that don’t contain discriminatory phrases, such as “No Children,” and “Ideal for Single Professionals.” 
  • Acting professionally in all interactions with tenants. This will ensure that no complaints have a ground to stand on. 
  • Being careful with what you say. For example, telling a prospective tenant that there is no vacancy when you actually do. 

wooden legal gavel

Bottom Line

The Fair Housing Act is one among many laws that landlords must abide by to run their rentals successfully. If you own a rental property and need expert help from a Fayetteville property management company, look no further than Keyrenter Arkansas. 

Keyrenter Arkansas offers comprehensive property management services to investment property owners in Fayetteville. Among other things, we can help you find a tenant, maintain your property, collect rent, and evict a problem tenant. Get in touch to learn more about our services! 

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 regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.