INSIDER’s Pop Quiz!
Q: A young couple is interested in renting a one-bedroom unit at your tax credit site. They recently moved here from Russia, so you tell them about a vacancy next door to a Russian-speaking family. Although there are other available units, you believe they’d be more comfortable living near others who share the same cultural background. Since you’re looking out for their best interests, you can’t be accused of a fair housing violation. True or false?
A: False. Even though you’re well intentioned, showing them only the unit near the Russian-speaking family could be considered unlawful steering based on national origin. Fair housing law doesn’t permit you to limit a prospect’s housing choices by encouraging or discouraging her from living at your site—or certain parts of the site—because of her race, religion, national origin, or other protected characteristic. It’s better to tell prospects about all available units, and allow them to make a choice about where they want to live.