Episode 28 of Fair Housing Insiders
What does the executive order signed by President Biden on January 25, 2021, mean for the housing community? With the updated guidelines, what can we expect from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and what should we be doing now to avoid any appearance of housing discrimination against LGBTQ+ prospects?
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Table of contents
Highlights of Episode 28 – Housing Discrimination Against LGBTQ+ Prospects
Following up on the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, President Biden has directed all federal agencies to review the ruling to determine how it has impacted their rules and programs. With this direction, it is only a matter of time before HUD will issue specific regulations on implementing the Supreme Court’s decision regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. So this raises the question: should property management companies wait for these regulations or make changes now?
Property Management Policies and Training
We need to understand that we do not have a new protected category; instead, we now have an expanded protected category of sex. Under this expansion, you cannot discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation or the gender they are presenting.
The Supreme Court case was very clear with their decision. That being said, housing providers need to be proactive and immediately begin to review their policies and train staff to avoid any appearance of discrimination.
Potential Discrimination Scenarios and How to Avoid Them
Two men are interested in renting an apartment. Can you ask them for a marriage certificate? Or perhaps a person comes in with male features but is dressed as a woman and gives a feminine name that doesn’t match their government identification. Can you decline to show her the apartment?
The easiest solution to both these scenarios is that your policies and standards are the same across the board. If you wouldn’t ask for a marriage certificate from a heterosexual couple, you cannot ask for it from any other type of couple. What is your policy if a person’s first name doesn’t match their i.d.? This again needs to be the same regardless of what someone is wearing.
Expect that testers will be focusing their attention on compliance with the new regulations, so you need to be ready.
The best solution to ensure that your staff is prepared is to focus on training now. Ensure that your team has access to up-to-date training that includes the expanded understanding of the protected category of sex. Also, it is a good standard practice to create as many scenarios as you can and act them out via role-playing so that everyone is prepared.
By reviewing policies and training now, you can ensure that your staff has the tools they need to protect themselves and your company from a possible fair housing discrimination claim.
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