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'Can I Pick Only Female Renters for My D.C. Rowhomes for Rent?'

EJF Real Estate Services - Thursday, January 14, 2021

Who are your favorite renters? When you think through all of your D.C. rowhomes for rent and the residents you've had over the years, women might come to mind as the most responsible, rule-following, pay-on-time renters—making them your favorites.

As much as you might prefer to rent only to females (rather than risk trusting your properties to noisy, messy, and difficult male residents), you can't act on that bias as an investor. Any type of renter discrimination violates fair housing laws and could lead to a lawsuit that shuts down your rental property business, leads to expensive fines, or results in settlement payouts. 

Before you make renter decisions based on personal preference, apply these insights from our expertise as D.C. association and property management professionals.

Please note: This post is not a substitute for proper legal counsel and contains current information at the time of its publishing. When in doubt, it's best to reach out to the professionals at EJF Real Estate Services or obtain guidance from a skilled attorney.

Gorgeous lady in yellow sweater and denim jeans, at clean clearChoosing Renters Has Limits

We understand that when you find the type of renter who makes your real estate investments worthwhile, you want more of those renters. Taking note of the characteristics that embody your ideal renter isn't a bad thing. However, using any characteristics that violate anti-discrimination laws will land you in trouble. 

Be Selective—Without Breaking the Law

Screening and choosing excellent renters is a delicate process. It doesn't have to be difficult, but investors have to balance their preferences with following the law to find the best renters for their properties. 

You can set up legitimate criteria to place ideal renters in your D.C. rowhomes for rent. When developing your criteria, an expert in property management services can help you avoid specifying traits that violate discrimination policies.

When documenting your criteria, investors can't approve or deny potential renters based on: 

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • National origin
  • Familial status
  • A physical or mental disability.

This means real estate investors can't discriminate by excluding all men (or all women) when defining renter criteria and screening potential residents. To maintain legal operations, investors must take this seriously. Choosing a property manager that has experience working within associations to screen renters helps investors navigate the law and avoid discriminatory behavior claims.

What About Other Protected Classes?

While the traits above cover most potential reasons for discrimination, things change over time. In Washington D.C., rental property owners must exclude additional protected traits from consideration when choosing a new renter, including:

  • Personal appearance
  • Sexual orientation
  • Political affiliation
  • Matriculation
  • Status as a victim of an offense (domestic violence, stalking, etc.).

There's a lot to consider (and many things you can't consider) when screening applicants for a rental property. However, there are plenty of traits you can use to find the best renters for your properties in D.C. Working with professional, full-service property management is the best way to navigate what you can and can't use when it's time for a new resident. 

Focus on Criteria You Can Use

If these criteria make you feel like there are so many screening restrictions that you'll never find another good renter, we're here to help. Investors have plenty of options when setting legal criteria for ideal residents. 

You can include:

  • Credit score and income level minimums
  • A photo ID requirement
  • Stable employment requirements
  • No prior rent defaults or evictions
  • Positive reviews from prior rental property owners and listed references.

With this kind of screening and background information, D.C. investors have a lot of quality information to determine the rental-worthiness of an applicant legally. When screening potential renters, compare every applicant to the same criteria. Doing this promotes a fair evaluation process—and minimizes the potential for discrimination claims.

You're also more likely to find a quality renter when you use the same criteria for every applicant during your search process. 

Businesswoman looking through a magnifying glass to contract

Don't Be Afraid to Screen

Placing the best quality renters is always a critical aspect of success when investing in real estate.

  • High-quality renters help investors make more money.
  • Better renters take excellent care of your properties, pay the rent on time, and renew a lease when they're happy in your rental home. 

Don't let the rules and regulations keep you from applying a thorough screening process every time you need a new renter for your D.C. rowhomes for rent. Picking anyone who puts in a good application and appears trustworthy could place your rental property and income at risk. 

If it feels overwhelming to consider everything you can and can't apply during your renter selection process, let expert full-service property management handle it for you! 

With professional screening and management, we:

  • Market your properties to attract high-quality renters
  • Apply a legal screening process to every applicant
  • Monitor anti-discrimination laws to stay up-to-date 
  • Choose the best renters (male or female) for your properties.

Our job is to help you make the most money from your rental properties while protecting your investments. The right screening process makes that possible. 

A Property Manager Screens Your Best Renters

With our D.C.-area experience and careful attention to the law, EJF Real Estate Services helps investors find the best residents and manage rentals legally for your success. When you're ready to let expert full-service property management manage your renter screening and leasing process, we're here for you.

You can also take advantage of our free resources to learn more insights for investing in the D.C. rental market. Get started on your path to sound investments with our guide to real estate investing.