September 2021 Coach's Quiz
Now that we’ve explained the six rules for avoiding discrimination when renting to students, let’s see how well you learned the material. 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!
Your community has a no-pets policy. A disabled student and Army veteran who relies on a certified assistance dog to help her with post-traumatic stress disorder fills out a rental application. You screen her and find that she owes her former landlord thousands of dollars in unpaid rent and has a very poor credit report. Must you rent her an apartment?
a. Yes, because exempting a disabled tenant’s assistance animal from a no-pets policy is a legally required accommodation
b. Yes, but only if veteran status is a protected class in your jurisdiction
c. No, as long as you consistently reject other applicants with inadequate credit and rental history
A policy to deliberately not rent to students is most likely to be considered discriminatory under which of these circumstances:
a. Your property is located in a college town
b. Your property is located in a town where the only university is an all-Black institution
c. You base your policy on the assumption that students don’t pay rent, make noise, and damage property
COACH’S ANSWERS & EXPLANATIONS
Correct answer: c
Reason: Rules #5 and #6 apply here:
Rule #5: Stick to Your Standard Rental Screening Processes
Rule #6: Make Reasonable Accommodations for Students with Assistance Animals
You don’t have to rent to any person who’s unqualified, as long as you perform screening and apply legitimate, nondiscriminatory criteria consistently with all applicants regardless of disability, race, etc. Rental and credit history are recognized as legitimate, nondiscriminatory criteria for landlord use in selecting tenants. Thus, as long as you apply those criteria consistently, you don’t have to rent to disabled veterans with unacceptable credit and rental history. So c. is the right answer.
Wrong answers explained:
a. This answer conflates the rules governing pre-rental screening and accommodation of assistance animals. Make sure your leasing staff don’t make the same mistake. If you legitimately determine that an applicant is unqualified, you don’t have to rent to her and the question of accommodating her disability becomes a moot point.
b. The reason b. is wrong is that being a member of a protected class doesn’t exempt applicants from screening. It just means you can’t treat them less favorably because of their protected characteristic(s), in this case, disability and perhaps military status. But you can still reject an applicant if she doesn’t meet your legitimate screening criteria.
Correct answer: b
Reason: Rule #1 applies here:
Rule #1: Be Careful About Adopting a “No Student” Rental Policy
Students are typically not listed among those who are protected from fair housing discrimination. However, categorically refusing to rent to students may still be a form of indirect discrimination against students who have other personal characteristics that are protected—for example, students who are Black, disabled, foreign nationals, etc. While it may seem neutral on its face, a no-students policy in a town where the only educational institution is an all-Black university may have the effect of discriminating against Black renters. The same reasoning applies to religious and single-sex universities. So, b. is the right answer.
Wrong answers explained:
a. Being located in a college town doesn’t denote discrimination if students aren’t a protected class. And while a no-students policy might be deemed indirect discrimination on the basis of age, source of income, and other grounds, the link is fairly tenuous to the extent the colleges in the town aren’t for any particular race, sex, disability, or religion.
c. This answer sounds right because it’s based on stereotypes about students, and fair housing laws ban making decisions on the basis of stereotyping. The reason c. is wrong is that students aren’t a protected class. Consequently, it’s not discrimination to exclude them on the basis of these stereotypes, even if the stereotypes are wrong and ignorant.
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|Back to School: How to Avoid Fair Housing Trouble When Renting—or Not Renting—to Students|