Fair Housing 101 | Lesson 8 | Chilling? Not as cool as you think!
What is “Chilling” in regards to fair housing laws and why must it be avoided? Chilling refers to comments or acts designed to discourage applicants in a protected class from renting your properties and is, therefore, intentional discrimination. They are a form of obvious “steering” read about this in lesson 7.
- General examples of “Chilling” can be anything from telling a prospective applicant from a protected class something like these examples below:
- “You know there are gangs, drugs or a lot of crime in this neighborhood.”
- “There really is not a lot of other people like you living on the property.”
- “This is a noisy area to live in. You might not like this part of the building.”
*Exception – if there has been a recent crime on the property or there is a serious crime that has happened in the neighborhood, the applicant can be informed. Manager or agent should check on the policy of disclosure of “known risks”.
Most incidents of chilling involve families with children. Examples of chilling statements include:
- “There really is no place for children to play.”
- “These are very busy streets.”
- “We have strict noise rules on our property.”
- “The balconies are unsafe.”
- “There are ponds, streams, pools, etc that present danger to children.”
- “There are gangs and drugs in the area, so it is not a safe place for children.”
- “The schools are bad in the area.”
If applicant brings up crime, schools, etc., refer them to local authorities or the internet
Seniors or disabled persons are also often “chilled”, sometimes with good intentions. Examples can be:
- Commenting on physical condition or frailty.
- Questioning applicants ability to manage living in certain units in case of fire or emergency.
- Warning an applicant that noisy children live in the building or complex.
- Warning about crime in the area (unless there is a need to disclose “known risks”).
- Questioning applicant about their ability to live alone.
If you avoid these examples you will have an easier time making a possible applicant welcome to apply for a unit in your property and hopefully avoid the headaches that come from someone reposting you for discrimination which means you could have been breaking fair housing laws.