Fair Housing Act Advertising Checklist

Fox Rothschild LLP

As an apartment management staff member, please know that advertising is absolutely a part of our Fair Housing Act (FHA) compliance efforts. Indeed, the FHA specifically has a section which confirms that it is against the law to advertise in such a way as to indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on any of the protected classes the statute. Indeed, the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has had advertising regulations in place since 1972. These regulations were updated in 1989. But what does that mean in practice? Here are a few tips:

  1. It is a best practice that all advertising (which now includes internet sites in addition to flyers, mailings, newspaper ads, magazines, business cards, radio, television, and even word of mouth) contain the Equal Housing Opportunity logo.
  2. Offensive phrases, such as “no children, singles preferred, next to a catholic church, and/or perfect for Hispanics”, and the like should be avoided.
  3. To the contrary, use welcoming phrases such as “quiet residential area, close to parks and recreation, gated community, and/or near many houses of worship.”
  4. If your ads include photos of human models, make sure you select a variety of people from different national origins and races. Does that mean every picture needs to include someone of every national origin? Of course not. But work to be inclusive as you develop an advertising strategy.
  5. As a part of being inclusive, look to run your advertising in media that caters to more than one racial or national origin segment of the population.  Depending on where your property is located, you might want to try media that caters to a language other than English or caters to a group or groups that otherwise might not learn of your housing availability.

If you find it helpful, you can always speak with a lawyer like me to help develop policies to ensure your employees are informed as to what the FHA requires and that your advertising is screened for discriminatory content.

Just A Thought.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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