In Phoenix and Tucson, it is now illegal to discriminate against renters based on their source of income. Violating this law can result in hefty penalties for you and your owners. To ensure that your property management business is protected, here are seven steps your team can take right now:
- Read the ordinances: Take the time to familiarize yourself with the ordinances in Phoenix and Tucson, and understand how vouchers work and what each party can expect.
- Document how you will treat every source of income in advance: It's crucial to have a clear understanding of how your team will document and third-party verify each protected source of income. Remember that source of income laws protect more than just vouchers, and the City of Phoenix ordinance names over a dozen sources of income now protected.
- Update your rental criteria: Make sure your rental criteria does not state "We don't accept Section 8". Instead, change it to say "We accept all verifiable sources of income and all applicants who meet our minimum rental criteria." Your criteria needs to be well-documented and detailed. Rentzap has open-sourced standardized rental criteria for you to use.
- Have your owners agree to your rental criteria in advance: This will reduce the awkward conversations in which the owner asks you a seemingly benign but illegal question. It's also a chance to show your owner that you are on top of recent changes in the law.
- Brush up on Fair Housing: Refresh your team on fair housing laws that protect applicants and residents. Ensure that your team is well-educated on fair housing laws and practices to ensure that everyone is treated equally and fairly. Southwest Fair Housing Council provides great free resources and training.
- Get help: Seek out professional guidance if you're unsure about something or have questions. There are many resources available, including attorneys, industry organizations, and government agencies, that can help you navigate the complexities of the rental industry and ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws.
- Use a third-party underwriting service like Rentzap: Rentzap handles compliance for you by providing well-documented standardized criteria in advance to every applicant. We ensure that your rental criteria is compliant with laws as they change, and since we are a third-party, it's Rentzap on the line if there are any violations, not you.
Treating all applicants and residents with respect and fairness, having clear rental criteria and policies, and staying up-to-date on laws and regulations are all crucial to success in the home leasing industry. By taking these steps, you can create a positive and profitable rental business while avoiding legal issues and negative experiences for both you and your tenants.