The Kansas Residential Landlord & Tenant Act holds landlords to certain legal obligations. Key among these landlord obligations is strict adherence to the provisions of the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act was passed into law by Congress in 1968. The goal of this historically significant law is to prevent housing-related discrimination against persons on the basis of certain classes in all states, including Kansas.
In addition to landlords, lenders and home sellers are also required to follow Kansas Fair Housing Act provisions.
In today’s blog, SCUDO Real Estate & Property Management will walk you through everything you need to know about Kansas fair housing laws before you rent out your property!
What Led to the Passing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968?
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) was originally brought to Congress in 1966 in order to address the rampant housing discrimination present in housing-related transactions including a sale or obtaining a mortgage loan for single family housing. Over the following two years, both members of the Senate and House of Representatives considered the bill. However, during this time, the bill never gained the required support to be passed into law.
One of the bill’s strongest and fiercest supporters was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a civil rights activist, who, on numerous occasions, led civil rights movements dedicated to ending racial segregation. His speeches, which have become some of the most iconic in US History – had a profound impact on the national consciousness of racialization.
Unfortunately, King never lived to see the passing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968. He was assassinated on the 4th of April 1968 – a week before the bill was passed by Congress into law.
The 1968 act prohibited discrimination on the basis of four classes: race, color, religion, and national origin. The list of protected characteristics was then expanded 6 years later to include sex. Another amendment was made to the act in 1988, which added familial status and disability to the list of protected classes.
Many states and localities have also passed laws that further extend the list of protected characteristics available to their residents. However, the state of Kansas has the same protected classes as those at the federal level.
In Kansas, the Fair Housing Act protects:
- National origin
- Gender Identity
- Sexual Orientation
- Familial status
- Physical or mental disability
As a Kansas landlord, you must be mindful of these classes in your day-to-day operations when you rent out your property to any person. From how landlords advertise their rental and screen prospective Kansas tenants to how landlords respond to repairs and maintenance issues, following the Fair Housing Act is critical to landlords’ success!
How Can a Landlord Violate the Fair Housing Act?
The following are examples of Fair Housing Act violations that inspire a renter to file a complaint can occur when landlords aren’t careful. Remember, a landlord cannot use ignorance of the law as a defense in court in fair housing involved violations against a person.
- Including discriminatory statements in your rental ads. For example, stating “Christians Preferred,” “Male Only,” “No Service Animals” or “No Single Mothers.”
- Denying the rental application of prospective tenants for ground floor units on the basis of their disability.
- Responding to repairs or maintenance issues selectively.
- Having different selection criteria for or requesting a larger security deposit or more rent from prospective tenants based on their race, color, or any other protected class.
- Stating your home is vacant or not for rent depending on the applicant’s race, color, sex, or any other protected class.
- Threatening or interfering with your Kansas tenant’s right to exercise their rights to fair housing.
What Types of Properties Does the Fair Housing Act Cover?
The Fair Housing Act covers most types of housing and real estate professionals, including:
- Advertising agencies
- Lending institutions
- Owners of building lots
- Condominium associations
- Builders, contractors, and developers
- Real estate related organizations
- Rental property owners
But, while the act covers most housing, in extremely limited circumstances the act makes some exemptions to its standard rules. For example, it exempts housing operated by religious organizations, single-family houses that are sold or rented by the owner without an agent, owner-occupied buildings with four units or fewer, and private clubs that exclusively admit members.
Do Tenants in Kansas Have Special Rental Provisions?
Yes, under the America Disability Act, your Kansas tenants have certain rights when they rent a home. First and foremost, your tenant has a right to reasonable accommodation.
When renting to a disabled tenant, a landlord has a responsibility to make any necessary changes to your unit to accommodate them. Such changes may include changing the lease agreement’s rules or policies, and your practices as a landlord, so as to accommodate your disabled tenant.
That said, by law the requests must be reasonable. A landlord has a right to reject requests that may cause you unreasonable financial strain.
Below are examples of reasonable accommodations landlords can fulfill when they are requested by a disabled tenant.
- Allowing a service animal in the rental by changing a no-pet policy.
- Reserving parking close to the building entrance for a tenant that may have limited mobility.
- Adding a grab bar to the bathroom.
- Allowing a tenant to transfer to a first-floor unit.
- Also, disabled tenants have a right to make reasonable modifications to their living space.
The modifications must, however, be reasonable and at the cost of the tenant. These changes are meant to make a tenant’s living space comfortable and safe.
The following are some of the modifications that a disabled tenant can undertake.
- Installing special door handles or faucets for easier access from a wheelchair.
- Lowering countertops for easier access from a wheelchair.
- Making modifications to kitchen appliances to accommodate blindness or vision impairments.
How to Avoid Tenant Discrimination in Kansas
Create Proper Advertisements
While filling vacancies quickly is key, a landlord needs to do so properly. Be sure to create ads that contain non-discriminatory language. In other words, the landlord must create ads that don’t show preferences for or limitations to a certain class of Kansas tenants. Landlords cannot, for instance, include statements such as “Straight Couples Preferred,” or “Ideal for White Men.”
Screen Prospective Tenants Without Discrimination
Your Kansas tenant screening process should be consistent in its requirements for every applicant.
If you run a criminal background on one prospective tenant, for instance, you must do so for every other applicant, as well so you can avoid a complaint that may escalate into a legal issue.
There you have it – an overview of the Fair Housing Act in Kansas. If you’re just starting out as a landlord or aren’t well-acquainted with Landlord-Tenant Law, SCUDO Real Estate & Property Management can help! We are the #1 property management company offering services in Kansas City!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for legal advice or information provided by a licensed attorney or professional property management company. Laws are subject to change and this post may not be updated at the time of your reading.