If you Google Fair Housing Act, Anti-Discrimination, or Disparate Impact, you will see a barrage of articles outlining the controversial Texas case facing the Supreme Court, challenging a ruling concerning the Fair Housing Act and the theology around “disparate impact.” The case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., is causing quite a ripple in the multifamily industry. The location of housing developments, the granting of loans and tax credits, the screening of potential residents could all change depending on the final ruling.
In my opinion, the case is going to spark some major changes in the industry around legal screening practices. Therefore, I think it’s a good time to revisit leasing practices and audit processes to ensure your community is FHA compliant, whether you are a single-housing landlord, or multifamily community manager. Here are some areas to check in the meantime:
- Marketing Practices: Are any of your marketing messages discriminatory? Are you diverse in your advertising? Do you promote all facets of your community as non-discriminatory?
- Screening Practices: Are your screening solutions compliant with FHA procedures? Does your screening interface allow you to apply applicant criteria uniformly?
- Messaging Practices: Is your leasing team FHA compliant in their treatment of all residents? Are your properties communicating fairly to all individuals, regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability?
Now is the time to do an audit of your properties’ FHA compliance. The TDHCA v. ICP case is controversial on many grounds and people are worried on all ends of the argument. Regardless of which side you are on, it is always good to be prepared for potential changes. Keep an eye out for the final ruling and future updates.