March 2021 Coach's Quiz

We’ve explained the seven rules to follow to avoid—and help your leasing agents avoid—engaging in discriminatory steering. Let’s see how well you’ve learned the lesson. Take the Coach’s Quiz below to see if you can apply the rules to real-life situations. Each question has one and only one correct answer. On a separate piece of paper, write down the number of each question, and list the letter corresponding to the answer you believe is correct—for example, (1) b, (2) a, and so on. The correct answers (with explanations) follow the quiz. Good luck!


A prospect tells a leasing agent that he’s a devout Christian and wants to be shown only apartments where the neighboring occupants are also Christian. No Jews. No Muslims. Just Christians like me, he demands. What should the leasing agent do?  

a.            Agree to his demands because it’s not steering when the prospect is the one who discriminates.

b.            Tell him that the community is an equal housing opportunity provider and offer to show him units based purely on availability.

c.             Refer him to neighboring communities where he’d be comfortable because they have a large number of Christian residents.  



A married couple with an adorable 2-year-old child wants to lease an apartment as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the only apartment currently available is a 10th floor unit with an open balcony. The leasing agent is horrified and wants to protect the toddler. What should she do?

a.            Not tell the couple about the vacancy for their own safety.

b.            Tell the couple that the unit is vacant but strongly advise them not to take it.

c.             Tell the couple the unit is vacant but inform them that it has an open balcony.  



Correct answer: b

Reason: Rules #4 and #7 apply here:

Rule #4: Don’t Answer Discriminatory Questions or Heed Discriminatory Demands

Rule #7: Don’t Direct Prospects to Particular Buildings or Areas on the Basis of Protected Characteristics

This scenario focuses on one of the toughest challenges leasing agents face, namely, how to remain compliant with the FHA when a prospect wants to do something discriminatory or asks a discriminatory question, like about the racial or ethnic make-up of other residents in the building. Ensure leasing agents are prepared for and know what to do if they find themselves in these situations. Specifically, they need to understand that they can’t give in to discriminatory demands or answer discriminatory questions. The best practice is to politely decline and tell the prospect of your community’s commitment to fair housing. So, b is the right answer.  

Wrong answers explained:

a.            The reason a. is wrong is because it doesn’t matter who initiates an action that constitutes steering. Once the leasing agent partakes in the action, he or she and, by extension the owner or manager that she represents, incurs potential liability as a participant in the behavior. The same principles apply when a leasing agent answers discriminatory questions.

c.             Directing a prospect to a particular community on the basis of religion or any other protected characteristic is also a form of steering. The leasing agent is still perpetuating discrimination and segregation even if it was the prospect that initiated the behavior. 


Correct answer: c

Reason: Rules #2 & #5 apply here:

Rule #2: Don’t Try to Influence Prospects’ Choices Based on Protected Characteristics

Rule #5: Don’t Limit Prospects’ Choices Based on Their Kids’ Safety

The cardinal rule is that leasing agents aren’t allowed to say or do things, or omit to say or do things, to protect prospects from themselves. Stated differently, prospects have the right to make their own housing decisions even if the leasing agent deems them unwise or dangerous. These principles commonly come into play in situations like the scenario where prospects want to lease apartments that may endanger their children. Although leasing agents may not try to influence their decision, they are allowed to point out the hazards of a property—open balcony, pool with no lifeguard, lead paint, etc.—as long as the information is factual, not misleading, and presented in a neutral way that an ordinary third party listening to the information would judge as not being intended to discourage the prospects from renting the property because they have children. And that means c. is the right answer.

Wrong answers explained:

a.            Concealing or lying to prospects about a vacancy because they have children (or, for that matter, any other protected characteristic) is a clear and obvious example of steering, even if it’s well intentioned.

b.            The same thing is true about trying to talk prospects out of renting an apartment because they have children even if the leasing agent sincerely believes she’s doing it for their own good.

See The Lesson For This Quiz

How to Steer Clear of Illegal Steering