Do Any of These Fair Housing Scenarios Sound Familiar?

You might be surprised at what could land you in trouble. Read these three scenarios.

  1. Your sales associate shows the parents of a blind toddler a house for sale at the end of a quiet cul de sac. One block away, on a busy corner, the parents notice another house for sale that meets their specifications and ask why the sales associate didn't show them that one. Even if the sales associate has the family's best interests in mind, she can be said to be acting discriminatorily on the basis oif the toddler's handicap.
  2. A property manager shows a young, single woman a top-floor apartment when there is a first-floor unit available. A perfectly sincere concern for this woman’s safety may have led the manager to steer the tenant to the top-floor unit he perceives as safer.
  3. A customer asks your sales associate where one of your listings is located. "It's on Division Street," he says, "across the street from a little bodega and a block away from Roberto Clemente High School." The choice of the word “bodega” instead of the more generic store might be seen as a way to indicate that many of the neighborhood’s residents are Hispanic.

Although well-intentioned, these common practices constitute steering. This effort to influence a person’s housing choices based on race and other protected class violates federal fair housing laws and places the broker at risk of a discrimination complaint.

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