Avoid Discriminating Words in Your Advertisements

The Fair Housing Act governs the actions of all real estate professionals, and Section 804(c) of the act makes it “unlawful to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published, any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling, that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.”

The Fair Housing Act governs the actions of all real estate professionals, and Section 804(c) of the act makes it “unlawful to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published, any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling, that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided guidelines on fair housing advertising in the real estate industry. Below is a list of advertising that HUD has considered to contain words and phrases that indicate a discriminatory preference or limitation.

1. Race, color, national origin. Real estate advertisements should not state any discriminatory preference or limitation on account of race, color, or national origin. Use of words describing the current or potential residents or neighborhood in racial or ethnic terms (i.e., white family home, colored home) will create liability under this section.

Advertisements which are facially neutral will not create liability. For example, the use of phrases such as “master bedroom” or “desirable neighborhood” are lawful.

2. Religion. Advertisements should not contain an explicit preference or limitation based on religion. Advertisements which use the legal name of a religious entity or those which contain a religious symbol may indicate a religious preference. However, if such advertisements also include a disclaimer, it will not violate the Act.

Moreover, advertisements containing descriptions of properties (i.e. apartment complex with chapel or services) is not a violation of the Act. The use of images or symbols relating to religious holidays such as Santa Claus or Easter Bunny, or phrases such as “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Easter”, or the like does not constitute a violation of the Act.

3. Sex. Advertisements should not contain explicit preference, limitation or discrimination based on sex (i.e. bachelor’s house). Use of the terms “master bedroom” and “in-law unit” do not constitute a violation of either the sex discrimination provisions or the race discrimination provisions of the Act.

4. Handicap. Advertisements should not contain explicit exclusions, limitations, or other indications of discrimination based on handicap (i.e., no wheelchairs).

Descriptions of the property (i.e. great view, walk-in closets) and facilities (i.e. jogging trails, near golf course) and accessibility features (i.e. wheelchair ramp) are lawful.

5. Familial status. Advertisements should not contain preference or limitation based on familial status, i.e. the number or ages of children, and couples or singles. Again, advertisements describing the properties (two bedroom) and facilities or neighborhoods are not facially discriminatory.

For a full list, see NAR’s Fair Housing Word and Phrase List

Posted on July 10, 2019 at 10:59 pm
Intero | Category: Pivot

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