What can REALTORS® do to make sure we are
complying with the law?

Real Estate Professionals move in a fast-paced market and respond to the needs of owners, buyers, and renters alike. Providing excellent customer service to all your clients while staying on top of a competitive real estate market can be difficult. Below are several tips from our partners at Suffolk University Law School* to ensure that a busy day does not become a fair housing issue.

  • Establish a master checklist that you can adapt to each property you handle.
  • Have a template email or other correspondence. That way you can make sure that you are telling everyone the same information every time.
  • Make sure every applicant is asked for the same information. Asking for references, credit checks, or criminal background checks is completely legal – as long as everyone is asked the same questions, not just certain groups of people. Having a checklist with these questions will ensure you are being consistent.
  • Consider keeping a call log for every property.  That way you can make sure that everyone is receiving the same customer service and the same timely response to their inquiries.
  • Be prepared.  If an owner asks for you to put discriminatory language in a listing, or asks you to engage in a discriminatory practice, remember it is your responsibility to know the law and your license is on the line. You are liable for carrying out your client’s request to discriminate. Have information such as this webpage at your fingertips so you can educate the owner on the relevant issues and rules. Be ready to inform the owner of everyone’s fair housing rights and responsibilities. Encourage your clients to develop criteria for evaluating prospective tenants and to apply the same criteria equally to all those interested in renting.
  • Engage in self-reflection. Everyone possesses assumptions and biases. When we are at our busiest, those assumptions act like shortcuts to save us time and brainpower. However, these assumptions are often implicit biases that can impact the way we treat people and even expose us to legal liability.

*SULS is a Department of Housing and Urban Development grantee and any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of HUD.

Educational Webinars for Members

Discover how MAR is working to support fair housing in our state:

Fair Housing: Past to Present

Attorneys from Suffolk Law School’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program discussed fair housing history, the current landscape, and best practices with a focus on promoting racial equality and avoiding discriminatory practices. They shared results from recent research on race and source of income discrimination in the rental market which illustrates how systemic racism has laid the framework for our current fragmented society.

Presenters:

Jamie Langowski, Esq., Assistant Director, Housing Discrimination Testing Program
Catherine LaRaia, Esq., Director of Investigations and Outreach, Housing Discrimination Testing Program

Implicit Bias & Panel Discussion

This webinar explores the attitudes and stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner and get tips on how to change our brain’s behavior. This implicit bias review is followed by a panel discussion where members share their experiences during their time in real estate and what we can do together to be more mindful of our business practices.

Presenter:

Ryan Wynett has a PhD in cognitive science and is the Exhibit Manager of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Section 8 Housing & Vouchers

Learn from the Worcester Housing Authority on how Section 8 and housing vouchers work. This includes the end-to-end process and how to become more effective for all parties involved. Presenters also discuss what the experience is like for landlords and how you can help.

Presenters:

Alex Corrales, CEO of Worcester Housing Authority
Laurie Matosky, VP of Leased Housing – Worcester Housing Authority
James Brooks, Healthy Homes Program Manager for the city of Worcester

Watch NAR’s video, The Reaffirmation of Fair Housing Principles. NAR Director of Fair Housing Policy Bryan Greene shares why NAR’s fair housing principles matter in this current climate.