There are ample materials available to landlords on tenant screening, including tips to check for references, how to perform a credit and background check, and which questions to ask when screening. However, we think it is equally important to know what NOT to do during tenant screening. Some questions can be seen as discriminatory or can violate the Federal Fair Housing Act. Even though they may seem like innocent discussions, here are the kinds of questions you should avoid and examples of each:
Questions Related to Familial or Marital Status
- Are you pregnant?
- How many children do you have?
- Where do your kids go to school?
- Are you married?
- Are you divorced?
Questions Related to Religion
- Do you need directions to the nearest church?
- Do you want to learn more about the synagogues in this neighborhood?
- What is your religion?
Questions Related to Race or National Origin
- Are you white or Hispanic?
- What is your first language?
- Where were your parents born?
- What country are you from?
- Did you know a lot of minorities live in this area?
Questions Related to a Disability
- Are you disabled?
- Do you have a service dog?
Questions that are Personal
- Are you gay?
- How old are you?
- Are you single?
- How long have you been married?
As a rule of thumb, we suggest that when in doubt, do not ask the question. For more information on the Fair Housing Act, visit The Balance. For more landlord resources, check out our Investor Resources Page.
Check out our Landlording and Property Management Resources Page for expert tips from our team.