As a landlord in Missouri, it’s crucial to be aware of the Missouri Fair Housing Act and how it affects your rental practices. Housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability is strictly prohibited under the Missouri Fair Housing Act. Violating this act can lead to costly legal proceedings, penalties, and damage to your reputation as a landlord. To ensure compliance and avoid any potential legal issues, it’s essential to understand your obligations under the Missouri Fair Housing Act. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know as a landlord to comply with this law and provide fair housing to all tenants.
Who is Covered by the MFHA?
The Missouri Fair Housing Act protects a broad range of individuals from discrimination in the housing market. This includes people of all races, religions, nationalities, gender identities, and ages. It also includes those with disabilities and those who have children. Landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants based on any of these characteristics during the rental process, including advertising, screening, and leasing. The Act applies to a wide range of housing options, including single-family homes, multi-unit buildings, apartments, and mobile homes. It’s important for landlords to understand the protected classes under the Missouri Fair Housing Act and ensure that their rental practices comply with the law.
What is Prohibited by the MFHA?
Under the MFHA, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants or potential tenants based on the protected classes mentioned earlier. This includes any action that makes housing unavailable or less available to members of a protected class. Examples of discrimination under the MFHA include:
● Refusing to rent to an individual based on their race, religion, or other protected characteristic
● Setting different rental terms or conditions for members of a protected class
● Denying reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities
● Advertising rental properties in a way that indicates a preference for or against members of a protected class
● Harassing tenants or potential tenants based on their protected status
What are Landlords’ Responsibilities Under the MFHA?
As a landlord in Missouri, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are in compliance with the MFHA. Here are some of the key steps you can take to meet your obligations under the law:
1. Avoid Discrimination in Tenant Screening
When screening potential tenants, it’s important to treat all applicants equally and avoid making decisions based on protected characteristics. This includes conducting background checks and credit checks in a consistent manner and not excluding applicants based on factors like race, religion, or familial status.
2. Make Reasonable Accommodations for Tenants with Disabilities
Under the MFHA, landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. This may include allowing tenants to make modifications to their units to accommodate their disabilities or allowing service animals on the property.
3. Advertise Rental Properties in a Non-Discriminatory Manner
When advertising your rental properties, it’s important to avoid language or images that suggest a preference for or against members of a protected class. For example, an advertisement that says “great for young professionals” could be seen as discriminatory against families with children.
4. Respond Promptly and Professionally to Tenant Concerns
If a tenant raises a concern related to discrimination or harassment, it’s important to respond promptly and professionally. Take any complaints seriously and investigate them thoroughly to ensure that you are in compliance with the MFHA.
5. Familiarize yourself and your staff with the Fair Housing Laws
Finally, it’s important to educate yourself and your staff on fair housing laws, including the MFHA. This may include attending training sessions or reading up on the latest developments in fair housing law to ensure that you are up to date on your responsibilities as a landlord.
Understanding the Missouri Fair Housing Act is critical for any landlord operating in the state. By complying with this law, landlords can provide equal opportunities to all tenants and avoid legal issues and penalties. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your rental practices are fair, consistent, and free from discrimination. This involves being aware of the protected classes under the act, providing reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, and avoiding any discriminatory practices during the rental process. Staying up-to-date with the Missouri landlord-tenant law and seeking legal advice when necessary can help you stay in compliance with the law and maintain a positive reputation as a landlord. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, landlords can create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all tenants.
Guest Contributor: Amelia Brown