PAR Fair Housing Guidelines updated

By Kim Shindle | June 24, 2013 | 3 min. read

97743743A revised version of PAR’s Fair Housing Guidelines, available online, gives easy-to-understand examples to help Realtors® avoid inadvertently violating the law.

The Fair Housing Guidelines also includes a list of words to avoid in advertising or when speaking to clients. And the guidelines include information about rentals and commercial properties.

PAR’s Diversity Committee worked with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to update the guidelines and provide some real life scenarios so Realtors® can identify potential fair housing violations before they occur.

“Often times Realtors® are trying to assist their clients but they’re actually violating federal and state fair housing laws as well as the Code of Ethics,” said David Dean, chair of PAR’s Diversity Committee. “As Realtors®, we want to help our clients. But when a client asks ‘which houses are located in the good school districts,’ or ‘do you think I’ll be comfortable in that neighborhood,’ we need to remember that these are decisions clients need to make on their own so we’re not crossing any lines.”

PAR Director of Professional Practice Hank Lerner advises, “Focus on the property and you’ll go a long way towards minimizing your chances of being caught up in a fair housing case. A house doesn’t care if it’s purchased by a single Caucasian man or a Latino multi-generational family with three disabled children, so why should you?

“Instead of trying to guess what sorts of people might be happy in a property, simply list the attributes of the property and work to match up prospective buyers or tenants based on their stated property needs. The less you editorialize about what you think they should want or the things that you think should matter to them, the better off you’ll be,” Lerner adds.

Fair housing violations have become more subtle, according to a recent study released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Urban Institute (UI). The study, Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012, found that while blatant acts of housing discrimination faced by minority home buyers continue to decline in the U.S., more subtle forms of housing denial persist. African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians learn about fewer housing options than equally qualified whites in both the buying and rental housing markets.

While the federal Fair Housing Act marked its 45th anniversary this year, there are still thousands of fair housing violations filed nationwide each year. Realtors® and brokers should take time to review fair housing requirements and take a refresher course whenever one is available. Realtors® may also take a fair housing quiz at

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