Avoid Committing the NEW Seven Deadly Fair Housing Sins

In the February 2013 lesson, the Coach finishes its two-part lesson on deadly fair housing sins, old and new. Last month, Part I of the lesson covered the old—violation of federal fair housing rules that have been on the books for many years, but continue to trigger costly fair housing claims. Part II covers emerging issues and trends that could lead to fair housing trouble.

Among the new seven deadly fair housing sins is forgetting that fair housing advertising rules apply to social media, community Web sites, and other online resources. HUD’s position is that the FHA’s ban on discriminatory advertising applies equally to traditional forms of media and the Internet.

Our experts believe it won’t be long before fair housing advocates begin looking at social media for “advertising” violations. For example, they warn that you should exercise caution when posting photos on your Web site, Facebook page, and other social media sites. In their opinion, the people shown in the photos are “human models” under fair housing law, which requires that they reflect diversity and representation of majority and minority groups. Even if your community does not have diversity, you should use stock photos along with your photos to depict a composite of diversity so that any “reasonable person” will believe she would be welcome at the community. It’s also wise to include photos of children (unless the property is senior housing) and people with disabilities.

For more on the seven deadly fair housing sins, see our February 2013 lesson, “Deadly Fair Housing Sins, Part II: Emerging Trouble Spots,” available on our homepage or in our online Archive.



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