Make sure you have fair housing act compliant multifamily marketing. It’s vital that it follows all the rules that are put forth in the Act—especially so you don’t end up redesigning or reprinting your marketing collateral and adding in extra expenses. Some portions of the Fair Housing Act are much easier to follow than others, but it’s best to review the fair housing compliance regulations specifically around marketing and branding for apartments.
The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act was introduced originally as part of civil rights. It helps prevent discrimination against protected classes.
WHO ARE FAIR HOUSING ACT PROTECTED CLASSES?
The protected classes under the fair housing act are the following: Familial status, disability, religion, race, skin color, nationality, sex.
Some regulations vary by state, so please check your local resources (your state government website, i.e. ca.gov) to see if there are additional classes that must be considered for protection against discrimination locally. Sometimes that includes marital status, military status, student status, source of income, age, sexual orientation, and creed.
At its most basic, the Fair Housing Act helps provide equal treatment to all for housing. Making sure you have fair housing act compliant multifamily marketing is common sense.
Avoid Fair Housing Act Violations
Every diverse situation should be represented in your marketing and branding materials. In photos, in messaging, ensure that your resident images run the gamut in race, age, ability, and familial status and type. Even when it comes to the photos that are hung up in the leasing office or in any handouts, it’s important to keep those updated and diverse, as well.
EQUAL HOUSING ICON USE
Use the equal housing icon on everything, not just some of your marketing. For example, if you print a brochure with a lease special with no logo, and then later print a brochure that includes the logo, you might be flagged for attempting to charge more money for someone in a protected class. Make sure it appears in the footer or corner of everything you put out.
Whenever you’re creating content for your apartment community, it’s always better to describe the amenities and the services instead of the ideal resident that would live in your community. That is, describe what you do have and what is permitted rather than saying “No ____” or “No ____.” That is, unless it’s pets. Quick note there: Service dogs are not pets, and saying “No service dogs permitted” is the opposite of inclusive and could create a lawsuit.
SPREAD THE SUPPORT
Giving is good! Supporting different causes is great. Having transparency about where your donations go can be helpful to show you support a variety of groups and causes and aren’t just looking to donate to Christian-only organizations. If you hold fundraisers, advertise for them equally. Put the same amount of effort into each. And be sure that the organizations you give to are inclusive in the way they aid the community and reach different populations.
TREAT PROSPECTS EQUALLY
Prospects as well as applicants and residents are considered in fair housing act compliance. They’re all protected. This goes for in-person, over the phone, and via email. Anyone that walks in the door should get the same (high) level of attention and service. Ensure your staff is well versed and well trained in this.
Final Reminders for Fair Housing Act Compliant Marketing
Short on time but you still want to make sure your multifamily marketing is fair housing act compliant? Use these quick guidelines to help:
- Use FHA logo in all ads
- Try to vary people in your photos
- Describe amenities, not the resident you want to live in your community
- Make every part of your marketing welcoming to all
1️⃣ Describe the property, not the resident—it’s okay to have internal very specific ideal resident profiles, but those shouldn’t show up anywhere outward-facing.
2️⃣ Keep materials consistent so that what you say is the same as what you have on your brochures. Never ever say “no children” or “a place for professionals.” Both are 100% discriminatory.
3️⃣ Use neutral words when talking about residents: “people” good “elderly” or “family-friendly” might be a little too identifying / could be considered discriminatory in extreme circumstances.
4️⃣ Be mindful of how you give directions—using landmarks that are neutral is best (not a country club, not a church, etc.)
5️⃣ Senior living and 55+ communities have special exemptions. See more about their fair housing act exemption.
If you’re still seeking out more FHA compliance answers for your marketing, check out the hud.gov sites. They’ve made multiple resources available, including fair housing advertising overviews, HUD advertising guidance, and they’ve also created equal housing opportunity graphics in varying sizes for use on all of your multifamily marketing collateral.