Landlords Face Potential Liability
for Not Changing Rent Due Dates for SSDI Recipients
In a recent court decision, a federal district
judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that landlords face potential fair
housing liability for refusing to adjust due dates for Social
Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients. In issuing its
opinion, the court found that because SSDI recipients get their
payments on a schedule over which they have no control, requiring
rent to be due on the first day of the month creates a disparate
impact on disabled tenants.
The case is Fair Housing Rights Center in
Pennsylvania v. Morgan Properties Management Company, LLC, 2018 WL
3208159 (E.D. Pa. 2018).
Takeaways for Landlords:
1. Because every case is different, please review
your own practices with your attorney in the context of this case to
identify potential liability.
2. Maintain standard rules and practices. Train
staff to refrain from one-off allowances that deviate from standard,
approved practices. In this case, some property managers had adjusted
due dates in some situations, but the defendant company had refused
to make an across-the-board change. The fact that the defendant's
individual property managers had been able to do this was cited by
the court in holding that accommodation in the form of moving due
dates was not unreasonable.
3. Always assume any person making any inquiry of
you is a tester, and follow the law to the letter. This case, like
many others, came as a result of testers making inquiries of the
defendant. Testers are actively working to find landlords who are not
following the law. While this case involves differences in
interpretation of the law, other cases do not. So, treat every accommodation
request as a potential test case. Regardless of other factors,
adhering to fair housing law is the right thing to do, but it is also
the way you avoid costly fines and court proceedings.
National Association of Residential
Are You Confused By Requests For
Service, Emotional Support And Assistance Animals?
The FHA prohibits discrimination based on
disability and requires housing providers to make reasonable
accommodations for people with disabilities.
You probably know that you would need to grant
this request. But what if the prospect requested an emotional support
bird in addition to a service dog? What if she gave you an online
“certification” for the emotional support bird? What if the requested
service dog was a restricted breed in your county?
Accommodation requests related to assistance
animals are prevalent, yet they cause much confusion. This is
understandable – multiple laws apply and use different terms and
definitions, there are many kinds of assistance animals that help
people with many types of disabilities (some of which are not
obvious), and online sites have surfaced offering questionable
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Property Managers Challenged By
Tenants Thin, Limited Credit History
Property managers have a lot of balls in the air
and many problems to deal with, but potential renters with thin,
limited credit history is one of the bigger issues.
In a survey across all geographic areas of the
country conducted by MMR Research Associates, Inc. earlier this year
on behalf of Equifax, the company received feedback from nearly 200
nationally-based landlords and property managers of varying size
Respondents were asked about the pain points they
experience in areas such as screening processes and online payments
and how they rank them on level of importance.
According to the results, most managers expressed
a range of issues with tenant screening that seem to cause the most
grief. These included verifying income and employment, uncommitted
potential tenants, thin credit history files, prior landlord
verifications, unclear credit.
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New Short-Term Multifamily Rental
Player In Portland, Seattle
A Portland based vacation rental management
company has launched a new short-term multifamily rental site that
claims it is “ready to become your most reliable tenant,” according
to a release.
Vacasa, the largest vacation rental management
company in North America, announced the launch of Vacasa Multifamily,
a new initiative dedicated to building its rental inventory for
guests seeking short-term stays in urban city centers.
Vacasa Multifamily will partner with leading real
estate developers and property managers to provide short-term rental
management services for vacant units, resulting in stable and
reliable revenue for the properties.
“The industry has seen an increase in guest
demand for urban short-term rentals, and we’ve been approached by
developers and property managers seeking our vacation rental
management services,” Joshua Viner, senior manager of Vacasa
Multifamily, based in Portland, said in the release.
“We’re excited to bring our decade-long property
management experience to the multifamily space and offer diverse
inventory for business and leisure travelers, as well as families
looking to stay in urban destinations.”
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Tips For Landlords
Violence against landlords and property managers
appear in the news with some frequency. Thinking
and having specific plans to address your safety
a long way toward making sure you don’t become
headlines for tomorrow’s news story.
1. Write down and follow screening guidelines.
Always checking credit reports, pulling criminal
reports and verifying references will help weed
out problem tenants. Always make a copy of the
applicants’ identification. Communicating your
requirements to prospective tenants will start
process off on the right foot.
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Simple Ways to Make
Tenants Feel at Home
The landlord-tenant relationship is
critical to successful property management, and like any
relationship, a good one requires care to foster mutual respect.
You want a tenant who is respectful
of amenities and responsible with up-keeping tasks—changing the air
filter, maintaining a pest-free living space, or making sure the
water is running in winter. And a tenant wants to feel that you are
invested in both them and the property. A tenant who feels that you
are ready to meet their needs is more likely to reciprocate your
attentiveness by being thoughtful in their dealings with you and your
A good relationship means both
parties have a vested interest in each other’s success. For the
landlord, this means that a tenant is less likely to ignore a payment,
fail to maintain the property, and is more willing to come forward in
as soon as possible to warn about emergent circumstances.
So, what are ways that you can
foster that relationship so that your tenants feel valued?