Friday, September 21, 2007

On Housing Discrimination

I have an apartment for rent and I want to discriminate. Yes, you read that right. I have borrowed an enormous amount of money and have spent the better part of a year working on this project, and I would like very much to discriminate against people who will not take good care of my property and against those who will not pay the rent. The problem of course is detirmining who those people are or might be.

Now I have no desire to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientaion, religion, politics or any of those kinds of things, but I wouldn't mind discriminating against a person who doesn't have a stable job, or who has a history of evictions or criminal records, or even against someone who gives me the creeps.

Do any of my readers have any advice they might like to share? On what basis may I legally discriminate? For example, must I rent to a convicted rapist if he can afford the rent?

12 comments:

Preachrboy said...

Well, by using this word, you are certainly inviting reaction. The definition, of course, means basicaly to discern or decide or prefer one over another.

But the connotation is so linked with the inapropriate, prejudcial, unethical type of discrimination (based on sex, race, religion, etc...) that you will likely take some abuse for using it.

Should be fun to watch, though.

Denis Navratil said...

Hey preach, discrimination is one of those words that needs to be reclaimed from the PC police.

Jennafer said...

do I have to rent to a convicted sex offender?? or...stupid people?

Anonymous said...

or rent FROM a stupid person?

Anonymous said...

or rent FROM a sex offender?

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Denis, as a landlord, by state law, you have fewer rights than your tenants.

My suggestion - keep the rent at a level that will dissuade "undesirables" and make sure the security deposit is at a level to recoup any losses from non-payment. You do have the right to evict someone for non-payment and a variety of other offenses, but not sure you can prescreen out these individuals - so get that money upfront!

If you don't already have them, get your hands on the state statutes that govern landlord/tenants. You can get a copy of the laws and "The Wisconsin Way: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants" from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Call toll free at (800) 422-7128.

May also want to check out this site. http://www.legalexplorer.com/legal/legal-QA.asp?PositionPoint=24&Sid=24#A15

I'd also talk with other landlords if I were you - those that have been doing this for sometime and know all the "ins and outs!" Good luck!

Denis Navratil said...

Thank you Calunp for the wealth of information.

Denis Navratil said...

A quick follow up. I called the Racine Fair Housing Department today asking if they had info pertaining to the rules and regs for landlords and tenants. Amazingly they did not. However, they referred me to the Conflict Resolution Department (I did't know we had one) who informed me that I could purchase "Wisconsin Way" from them. I purchased the booklet (from the county courthouse) but found absolutely no guidance on the important question of whom I may reject as a tenant and for what reasons. So I am still very much unclear on this matter unfortunately. I will keep digging until I get an answer.

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Denis, hate to say this, but it might be worth your while to spend the $100 or so and meet with an attorney well versed in this area. Like I said before, I don't think you have the "right of refusal" unless the circumstances are obviously adverse. Other than the "no smokers, no kids, no pets" restrictions, I don't know of any you can specify without someone screaming foul.

I still think you best bet is a high level of rent and requiring at least a couple months security deposit.

Conscious Thought said...

As a landlord myself, i here stories from tenants and other renters of so many bad landlords who teeter on the line of being sued and racking up a laundry list of violations from the city. Some of the stories i hear just amaze me.

As a warning for your desire to discriminate "legally" be aware that fair housing testers are in abundance and come in all colors and financial levels, ready to pounce on suspecting landlords.

Your rehab investment could end up costing you much more than you anticipated.

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks for your comments CTW. Long time no hear. As a consciencious liberal, I am certain you would not want to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and all the other no no's, but what would you do if someone just flat out gave you the creeps and you thought he/she would be nothing but trouble? Of course your judgement might be wrong or it might be right, but are you willing to risk your substantial investment on a person you don't trust? Thanks for the heads up on the fair housing testers. I already keep that in mind, but it bothers me that the same folks who do the testing (Fair Housing Coalition) can't tell me on what basis I may reject a prospective tenant. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

Get out of the rental racket...it is a usurous practice...