There was a time, not so very long ago, when a landlord could refuse to rent to someone, or to evict a tenant for any reason whatsoever. If he didn’t like the tenant’s skin color, religion, or national origin. all sorts of groups, including african-americans, Asians, Jews, Hispanics, unmarried couples, gays, families with children, and the disabled, were at the mercy of landlord’s prejudices. The days of legal discrimination are no longer tolerated. Federal, State, and local laws provide penalties for landlords who discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, and a number of other categories. The categories named in the various statutes are not the only groups that are protected The California supreme Court, as the court often does, took on the role of the legislation, and legislated, prohibiting discrimination based on “personal characteristics” or “personal traits,” meaning a person’s geographical origin, personal beliefs, or physical attributes There are legal reasons to turn down prospective tenants, such as a bad credit history or too many tenants for the size of the rental unit. There are special rules applying to landlords who share their premises with tenants. Legal Reasons for Refusing to Rent to a Tenant the most important decision a landlord makes, save possibly for deciding whether to purchase rental property . You are legally free to choose among prospective tenants as long as your decisions are based on valid business criteria, such as an applicant’s ability to pay the rent and properly maintain the property. You can legally refuse to rent to individuals with bad credit histories, unsteady employment histories, or even low incomes that you reasonably regard as insufficient to pay the rent. These reasons are reasonably related to your right to run your business in a competent, profitable manner, or your “legitimate or valid business interests”. If a person who has one or more obvious “bad tenant risk” if the person happens to be a member of a minority group, you are still on safe legal ground as long as you are consistent in your screening and treat all tenants more or less equally—for example,
you always require a credit report for individuals applying for the rental unit.
you are not applying a generalization about a particular group of peoplel, and
you consistently document your legal reasons for not renting to a prospective tenant.
It is important that you follow the rules, and that if you refuse to rent to a person who happens to be african-american, has children, or speaks only Spanish, be sure you document your legitimate business reasons why this person is not qualified, such as insufficient income, or prior evictions.
Federal, State and local Fair Housing Administrations, will be knocking at your door if you are turning down qualified individuals in favor of a particular group, or eliminating a particular group of individuals.
Acceptable Reasons to refuse an applicant
Acceptable reasons for denial are requirements that you establish before a prospective tenants
even apply. For example, a requirement had an eviction for nonpayment of rent is “objective”
because it is a matter of history. This criteria can be answered in the affirmative or negative.i.e. “yes” or “no.”
Some accepted examples of allowable, objective criteria for choosing tenants:
No negative references from previous landlords
Sufficient income to pay the rent, and
A good credit history
Married and Un-married couples
If the applicants are unmarried, be sure to consider both of their incomes. If, however, one has good
credit, and no evictions, and the other has bad credit and evictions, the bad information may be reason enough to select another person, or couple with good credit.
Incomplete or Inaccurate Rental Application
Your application form will provides you with all the necessary information. If a tenant fails to
complete your application, or lies about a material
fact, then you are certainly within your rights to refuse to rent to that individual.
As part of the application, the tenant will have to come up with the legally allowed credit check
funds, and if the tenant refuses, then again you can
refuse the applicant.
There is no law that compels you to rent to a person with a pet. and you can restrict the types of
pets you accept. Further you can allow some tenants to keep a pet and say no to others—
because “pet owners,” unlike members of a religion or race, are not as a group protected by
antidiscrimination laws. The issue of pets is a contractual issue, if your lease states that pets are not allowed then the tenant is in breach of the lease if they obtain a pet. The fact that other tenants have pets is no defense to a 3 day notice to
comply with the terms of the lease or quit. Keep in mind that you cannot refuse to rent to someone
with an animal if that animal is a properly trained
“service” dog for a physically or mentally disabled person.
Other types of Discrimination
Advertising that indicates that the preferred tenant criteria is based on race, religion, or any other protected category;
falsely stating that a rental unit is unavailable to a person of a protected class;
Having a more restrictive standards for a protected class of individuals.
refusing to negotiate for a rental agreement or lease with a person who is a member of a protected class;
Providing inferior housing conditions, privileges, or services to a protected class;
terminating a tenancy for a discriminatory reason
providing or suggesting different housing arrangements
refusing to allow a disabled person to make “reasonable medications” to his living space, or
Refusing to make “reasonable accommodations” in rules or services for disabled persons.