You don’t discriminate against potential or current tenants. You’re careful to treat everyone equally. So why do you need Tenant Discrimination Insurance?
Because your potential liability goes far beyond your own words and actions. In some cases, what one of your tenants does to another could even be a liability for you. And acting in good faith won’t necessarily protect you.
Unfortunately, many landlords and property managers have learned this lesson the hard way.
What is tenant discrimination?
In broad terms, discrimination is treating some members of a protected class differently from the way you treat other tenants. Examples of tenant discrimination may include:
- Refusing to rent to someone based on race, age, gender, religion, sexual preference or government subsidized housing eligibility
- Steering someone to certain units, or adding other restrictions, based on those same factors
- Denying availability of certain units or types of units based on those same factors
- Creating unreasonable restrictions on the number of occupants of a unit
- Creating different terms, standards or services for different tenants
- Changing the process for certain tenants, such as requiring background checks for some, but not all
- Requesting sexual favors or creating a sexually hostile environment
- Terminating a lease based on a discriminatory reason
You may be equally liable if one of your employees does something discriminatory. In some cases, failing to stop another tenant from making discriminatory, harassing or threatening comments to a person in a protected category exposes you to liability as well. If, say, one of your employees was aware of the harassment but “didn’t want to bother you” about the day-to-day activities in your building, once again you may be liable.
What can happen?
Even an innocent mistake, such as making more timely repairs to some units and delaying work on others, can expose you to significant civil fees and penalties based on several federal, state and city fair housing laws, including attorneys’ fees if your tenant or potential tenant files a lawsuit.
Establishing neutral policies that treat all tenants and prospective tenants equally, and training and monitoring all employees to follow those policies, is a start. But Tenant Discrimination Insurance provides additional protection against liability.
What does Tenant Discrimination Insurance cover?
In short, any claim brought against the property owner, manager or landlord that involves an accusation of discrimination against a tenant based on race, color, religion, age, gender, national origin, disability, pregnancy status, sexual orientation or government-subsidized housing eligibility, is covered by Tenant Discrimination Insurance. Often, such claims will include an accusation of harassing the tenant or wrongfully evicting them based on such discrimination.
A general liability policy does not include this protection. For this reason, we highly recommend purchasing a Tenant Discrimination Insurance policy to lower your potential exposure.