Monday, May 13, 2013

Scott Safadi Discusses the Fair Housing Act and Tenant Screening

Scott Safadi is the President of CBPM (Cal Bay Property Management). Scott Safadi has been doing property management since 2005, with Silicon Valley apartment communities the primary focus of his business management expertise. Scott Safadi holds a CCRM (California Certified Resident Manager) designation.

All property owners and managers are well advised to thoroughly educate themselves with regard to fair housing laws, according to Scott Safadi. In simple terms, the foundation of these laws is that all applicants and tenants must be treated equally, with objectivity, and without bias. But, notes Scott Safadi, the legal jargon is more complex than the basic premise and it is advisable that professionals in the housing industry be aware of the specifics of the law.

Because of possible perceived inconsistencies that may occasionally arise especially when an application is declined, Scott Safadi thinks that the screening of applicants is best handled by a third party agency. When using a third party agency, Scott Safadi explains, a set of screening criteria and policies are pre-established by the landlord or management company for properties in their portfolio. Any tenant applying for any unit within the portfolio is assessed based on the same pre-established rules. Scott Safadi believes that not only is this the most impartial system, but it is also a system that is most compatible with fair housing laws.

Scott Safadi points out that some landlords think they can take a stack of applications for a given apartment, look through them and then choose whom they believe to be the best applicant for their property. Scott Safadi cautions that fair housing laws require applicants to be screened in the order in which they apply. Landlords and management companies are legally required to follow a first-come first-served policy when filling vacancies. Scott Safadi explains that if the first application is denied, the landlord or management company must then move to the next one received in chronological order and so on. If an application is accepted, applicants can be required to put down a deposit within 24 hours of receiving the acceptance. However, Scott Safadi warns this must be the policy for all applicants to avoid any perception of bias.

The Fair Housing Act and its amendments is a law that prevents discrimination based on religion, color, race, or national origin. It covers denial of housing, terms of sale or rental, housing advertisements, interfering with a person's enjoyment of housing rights, and retaliating against organizations for assisting individuals with the exercise of fair housing rights. Its amendments added protection against sex discrimination and discrimination against families with children and the disabled. The law allows some exceptions; however, it is advisable for landlords and management companies to address possible exemptions on an individual basis with legal experts. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development enforces The Fair Housing Act.

Scott Safadi emphasizes the advantage of using a third party screening agency with regard to fair housing regulations. Using a third party agency takes the decision making out of the landlord’s hands, leaving no possibility for partiality on the part of a management company or landlord. Scott Safadi also stresses the importance of having a consistent policy for screening tenants like the third party agency Cal Bay Property Management uses. With the third party screening process, the decision is out of CBPM's control. If an applicant is denied, they are denied. If an applicant or tenant believes there has been an error in the selection process, he or she contacts the third party business directly. If an error is found, Scott Safadi and CBMP are able to act upon the recommendation of the screening company; however, CBMP does not have the power to override a recommendation by the company. Scott Safadi believes that this is one of the best ways for a landlord to avoid a fair housing lawsuit.

Scott Safadi recommends the website It has a wealth of information on property management solutions, web-based tools, forms, and more for apartment management businesses.

Scott Safadi lives with his family in Saratoga, California. Learn more about Scott Safadi at his website


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