A landlord in Grand Junction Colorado has refused to rent to a tenant who supports Donald Trump for president, and HUD has weighed in: that’s all right.
Under Fair Housing laws, landlords may not refuse to rent to someone on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status, or disability. This implies there’s free rein to question tenants about their political affiliation.
Just what America needs! More partisanship!
Let’s just do a Massachusetts sanity check: You are further restricted from discriminating against someone for their sexual orientation, marital status, age, ancestry, genetic information, veteran status, membership in the armed forces, or receiving public assistance. Nothing about political preferences!
But here’s a very serious word of caution, especially for the larger landlords with a target painted on their back: pollsters make it their business to identify party affiliation with protected classes. Your policy of discrimination on the basis of party affiliation may come with a prepackaged disparate impact lawsuit.
Unless you really know your local demographics, and really feel strongly that politics is worth refusing an otherwise qualified applicant, we advise against such a policy.
Also, keep in mind, HUD wasn’t asked to weigh in on discrimination against Bernie. They were asked about Trump. HUD themselves might be discriminating, and might find a reason why you must rent to Bernie supporters. Who knows! (FYI, MassLandlords isn’t taking a position on candidates. We’re just talking about possibilities. The same applies to Hillary and Cruz etc.)
If you do discriminate against someone on the basis of their political party, make sure you have a paper trail. There are a lot of protected classes in Massachusetts. Your Trump or Bernie supporter might just fall into one of them.