That is easier said than done many times.
It is human nature to judge people based on their appearance, their clothing, their vocabulary, their accent, their vehicle, their job, their income, their credit score.
But, REALTORS® are held to a higher ethical standard than human nature.
REALTOR® ethics article 10:
Prohibits discrimination in providing real estate services and employment based on any of these protected classes:
REALTOR® ethics include more protected classes than SC state and federal law on fair housing.
An easy way to operate is to treat everyone equally.
There have been some arguments that even criminal convictions are race, color, and national origin based on criminal justice statistics. So property managers who ask about convictions should also ask other questions. "Was the conviction about drugs or physical violence?" This answer can be indicative of future tenant safety issues. "How long ago was the conviction?" "Do you have a clean record since conviction?" "Any character references?" "Any explanation that you would like to add?" These answers can be indicative of how a future tenant might behave.
On January 8, 2020; NAR broadcast their new fair housing initiative.
SC REALTORS® plans to create a statewide fair housing education program.
Any suggestions, please email info.
If you see fair housing violations, say something. Alert your BIC. Consider filing written complaints at the appropriate organizations: REALTOR® association, LLR SC state government’s real estate commission, US HUD.
Think about every thought and action and speech that you have and consider if you are self patrolling for bias both intentional and unintentional.
Due to South Carolina’s history, most South Carolina residents are very conscious of race and color issues and strive to get along with each other in our communities.
NAR ranks discrimination against disabilities/handicap as the #1 risk. This discrimination can result from good intentions. Example: You have a buyer who is confined to a wheelchair so you decide not to show any properties with stairs or on a hill. That might get you in trouble if you did this without the buyer’s directions, so always let the buyer tell you what parameters they want to use in screening listed properties for showings.
Make reasonable accommodations. For Spanish speakers, consider hiring a qualified interpreter and using a bi-lingual law firm and associating a bi-lingual colleague. For tenants with animals who refer to the animal as a service animal, emotional support animal, comfort animal, seeing eye dog/horse, seizure sniffing dogs, diabetic sniffing dogs, or similar: allow the animal and do not apply any pet prohibition, pet rent, or pet deposit. If the animal destroys the rental property, the security deposit and lawsuit can recover repair money. SCR helped pass a SC law which makes it criminal to falsely present an animal as a service animal (e.g., trained to perform a service). Only ask "Is this animal for a disability?" Unless the potential tenant says "no" then you allow the animal as described in this paragraph. Do not ask follow up questions about the disability without legal counsel. If your landlord does not like this risk management strategy, then recommend the landlord hire a law firm and potentially become the SC test case on this issue.
Always call the SCR legal hotline with fair housing questions!
View the SCR fair housing webinars:
Posted by: Byron King on 1/9/20 (This information is only accurate as of 1/9/20. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 1/9/20 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email info at screaltors.org)