When you own a piece of residential real estate for lease in Florida, you can do what you like with it, right? In principle, this is true. However, you cannot violate a person’s rights when renting or leasing out your property. Although the property belongs to you, discriminating against potential renters can lead to legal trouble.
Those who lease residential real estate are bound by the Fair Housing Act prohibiting discrimination based on color, race, religion, national origin, gender, familial status or disability. Examples of prohibited actions or behaviors against those protected by the Act include things like:
- Refusing to rent or lease residential real estate to people of color
- Lying to disabled rental applicants about what rental properties are availability
- Creating different conditions or terms to make renting harder for immigrants
- Refusing to negotiate with a renter whose religion you don’t like
- Denying rental or leasing services to single women or single parents
- Providing different facilities or housing properties to people of color
It is understandable to wish to avoid leasing residential real estate to those who you suspect may cause trouble or damage your property. However, it can be dangerous ground if your actions appear to be motivated by discrimination against someone in a protected class. If you decide not to lease your property to certain individuals and they attempt to initiate legal action against you, it is smart to take your situation to a professional. Together, you can work through the matter, uncovering evidence to help you overcome your troubles.
As a bonus, working with a residential real estate lawyer helps you avoid legal problems before they have a chance to arise. For example, an attorney can help you draft solid lease agreements with language that improves your ability to comply with the Fair Housing Act.