Are you doing a good job of complying with the New Mexico Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act?
This is the law that drives most of what you can and cannot do as a rental property owner in Albuquerque. We know it well at Bruni Karr Agency, and we work hard to ensure all of our owners and their properties are in compliance with these important requirements.
Landlord and tenant laws must be carefully followed. Fair housing laws are equally important, and that’s what we’re talking about in today’s blog.
Federal Fair Housing Laws for Albuquerque Owners
Most of the federal laws that affect renting out your property are related to fair housing, discrimination, and credit reporting rules.
The main law you need to concern yourself with is the Fair Housing Act. It was established decades ago and it’s always being re-interpreted to keep up with modern discrimination and housing issues. We stay on top of the changes and the new interpretations of what fair housing really means.
Essentially, the Fair Housing Act provides protections for seven tenant classes. You aren’t allowed to discriminate against anyone based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability.
The best way to ensure you’re following all fair housing laws is to treat everyone consistently and to develop written policies. You should have:
- Standard rental criteria that are documented and provided to prospective applicants
- Checklists during the screening and leasing process that show you’re treating everyone fairly
- Processes in place that reflect the consistent collection of rent and lease enforcement.
State Fair Housing Laws in New Mexico
Many states across the country have their own fair housing laws that go beyond the protections provided by federal law. New Mexico is one of those states.
The New Mexico Human Rights Act is in place to protect people against discrimination in housing and other areas. This law prohibits discrimination based upon all the federally protected classes as well as:
- Sexual orientation
- Spousal affiliation
- Gender identity
Make sure your leasing and management practices comply with both federal and state fair housing laws.
Fair Housing and Service/Companion Animals
Fair housing laws include service animals and companion animals. You’ll need to know how those differ from pets.
While you get to decide whether or not to allow pets, you don’t have that flexibility with service animals and companion animals. If a tenant needs them, you have to allow them. Even if you have a strict no-pet policy for your rental home.
Often, there’s some confusion about what qualifies as a service animal and what’s considered a companion animal. Here are some of the key differences.
- Service Animals
Service animals are always dogs. They are used by tenants with a physical or intellectual disability. Typically, these disabilities are easy to detect, and you won’t need to ask what the service animal is for. No landlord should ever ask a tenant with a visual impairment why they need a Seeing Eye Dog.
- Companion Animals
Companion animals also serve people with disabilities, but they are not trained or certified in any way. These animals can be emotional support animals or therapy animals. While they are similar to service animals in the way that you cannot prohibit them in your rental property, the law does treat them a bit differently. They also may not be dogs; they can be any sort of animal.
This covers what you need to know about fair housing laws in Albuquerque. If you’d like to talk about your property and how to protect yourself against unintentional discrimination, please contact us at Bruni Karr Agency.