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You'll WALK the line...

…and still be in full compliance with fair housing if you make reference in your advertising that you have “walk-in closets” or that your residents can “walk to the bus stop” or that your community is within “walking distance” of fine dining.  Lately I have been hearing “we cannot say ‘walk’ as this is against fair housing and disability for people in wheelchairs”.  Recently someone even frantically asked our company to immediately change their online ad with us because of this.  While I appreciate the concern (and the general awareness that fair housing laws are out there), “walk” is just fine.  Breath deeply, relax and advertise accordingly.  And if I haven’t convinced you that this is OK, I bet HUD can convince you.  So go to HUD.gov and check out their fair housing info and you will find the memo from January 1995 (this is not a typo – “walk” was deemed OK 16 years ago!).  And I quote: Advertisements containing descriptions of properties (great view, fourth-floor walk-up, walk-in closets), services or facilities (jogging trails), or neighborhoods (walk to bus-stop) do not

violate the Act.  So there!  J  If you can’t find the memo, I can email it to you.  Reach out to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  And while we are at it, Jewish people can sleep under cathedral ceilings and visually impaired folks can have Venetian blinds.

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We in the industry are blessed to have such an incredible resource as Nadeen. Not only is she my "go to" for questions I might have with Fair Housing issues but I highly recommend her for her years of experience and knowledge!
Thanks again Nadeen, for educating us on all questions and concerns ranging from the most complicated issues to the most simple, as with this posting. Amazing how finding out the "why" regarding a Fair Housing situation really helps to clarify.

  Jackie Ramstedt, CAM, CAPS, CAS
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Nadeen, I love your blogs! Thanks for keeping us informed!! Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, I hear a TON of misinformation from people onsite, as well as upper management. Working in the marketing and training arena, I often hear fair housing as a reason (or excuse, maybe?) of why we can't do something. I have one for you: Recently I suggested hosting something for singles (community demographics and it's what the residents were requesting) and everyone screamed "liability"! Having spoken with a real estate lawyer about this in the past, isn't it permissible as long as you don't EXCLUDE anyone? Same with Diva night- don't just invite the ladies, invite EVERYONE. Am I "walking the line" on this?

  Tracey J. Lott
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Hi, Tracey. One of the lines that folks in our business walk is the line that separates the OK stuff from the fair housing violations. Sometimes the line is clearly delineated, other times not so much. And I think your question falls into that latter classification. The concern of course is that crossing the line into the land of fair housing trouble can be quite costly, and so you will see an abundance of caution as you have described above. The problem with having a community event that is targeted is that the "non-targeted" people may not know or believe that they can be included. So a "singles night" event, even if you plan not to exclude anyone, might say to people with children that they can't come or that if they do come, they really won't be welcome. The "Diva night" might make the guys feel the same way. And this is what is called in the law a "chilling effect". The issue is not that you do not intend to exclude or even that you would never, ever, exclude. If a person believes that an ad related to housing is discouraging to them, that is in itself the basis for a fair housing claim. Their viewpoint (if deemed reasonable by a judge or jury) creates the liability, notwithstanding how inclusive the event, the community and the community management team may be. So it is probably not the best of ideas to have these particular themed events unless perhaps the invites make it abundantly clear that everyone else (non-singles, non-divas) are absolutely encouraged and welcomed.

  Green Nadeen
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Oh, it would be made ABUNDANTLY clear! As I would also include EVERYONE for a Parent Free Time night, whether they have children or not. Thanks for clearing this up!

  Tracey J. Lott

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