What Corporate Rental Landlords Need to Know About the Fair Housing Act

Corporate Landlord

If you are about to invest in corporate rentals and executive rentals, or you already own them and wish to be in full agreement with federal laws, you need to be aware of the Fair Housing Act. It is legislation dating back to 1968 and it “prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status”. It applies to corporate rentals as much as it does to standard housing options, and that means you have to pay attention to it when listing and renting your executive rentals, too.

How would you have (inadvertently) violated the FHA in your corporate rentals or executive rentals? As one real estate report explains, “Fair Housing Act violations can occur in all phases of buying and renting, including in advertising, while you search, throughout the application process, in financing or credit checks, and during eviction proceedings.”

Corporate Landlord

As someone who owns corporate rentals, you can violate it by suggesting a potential client look at a different property in a different location based on your feelings about their race, sex (and/or sexual orientation), disabilities, and so on. You might refuse to rent to someone or ask for a higher deposit based on some prejudices or inaccurate beliefs you hold. You might charge someone a higher rate based on their gender or their race.

There are many ways you might be in violation of it, and so it pays to know one key rule to help you avoid crossing the line and breaking the law when renting out your executive rentals: You must apply the same standards and extend the same terms to everyone who applies to rent a property.

Book Furnished Rental from CHBO

In other words, if someone is disabled and wishes to rent the property, you need to make reasonable accommodations for that tenant. If someone is a different ethnicity than another applicant, you cannot give the second applicant preference over the other. Everyone must be given the same treatment.

Keep in mind that you might violate the FHA in advertising, screening, and many other ways. It is always in your best interest to be fully versed in the ways in which the FHA overlaps with your rental business. A good way to protect yourself is to be an exquisite record keeper, creating a fail-proof system that tracks everything from first contacts and applications to meetings and all the rest. This is one of the best ways to be sure you do not fail to meet the FHA standards and to prove nothing prejudicial or unfair was done during your interactions with renters or potential corporate or executive renters.

Virtual Tours and Your Corporate Rental

virtual tour

Do you know how to properly photograph your fully furnished rentals to their best advantage? Most property owners are unfamiliar with the long list of tips and tricks that can make even a small room look amazing. While we don’t recommend that you ever try to use a bit of visual trickery to enhance the appearance of a corporate rental (as this could lead to a negative review), we strongly urge anyone with fully furnished rentals to do their best to photograph them effectively.

It is why CHBO offers clients access to professional photographers for their corporate rental listings, and why virtual tours are also strongly recommended. In fact, you can use the site as your one-stop resource for the best photos and YouTube and online videos that give website visitors a virtual tour of the entire property.

Is it worth the effort? In an article from a few years ago, we mentioned that “81% of U.S. tenants use Virtual Tours as a resource when they are considering a rental property. And that only 15% tour the property in-person.” In that same article, we went over the reasons that your property listings for fully furnished rentals shouldn’t really be considered complete without that sort of enhanced view of the property.

Online Open House

As we pointed out, not all potential renters have the ability to pay a real world visit. In fact, since you are offering a corporate rental, the renter may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The use of the virtual tour gives them a very realistic experience of a walk through, and allows them to get an accurate feel of the entire space.

This could be the key to having your fully furnished rentals booked more regularly than listings with only a few static, still shots. In the article on virtual tours, we explained that you could use a smartphone or video device to do your own walk through and then just use the YouTube site to create a link to your tour. You can also use dedicated apps that offer panoramic views.

virtual tour

The point here is that whether you choose the DIY options with apps or rely on the full services of a firm like CHBO, it is important to use virtual tours for any corporate rental. Give yourself a bit of an advantage, let your clients get a more accurate experience of the property, and see how just that little bit of time and effort can really pay off with more frequent rentals.

Trends and Changes in the Corporate Housing Industry

CHBO Certified Property

On a regular basis, we assess the trends in the corporate housing industry. In a Corporate Housing Report, we looked at the role of corporate rentals as a major player in corporate relocations. Not surprisingly, things have continued to change, and these changes have led many to enroll their rentals in the CHBO Certified program. This delivers access to the kinds of resources and marketing methods that produce the most coveted outcomes.

Let’s consider some of the data and discover if the corporate housing resources in the CHBO Certified program are of benefit to you (as the owner of one or more such premises).

Optimal Answers in Corporate Housing

Experts revealed that the “trend toward lump-sum relocations and unstable and unpredictable real estate markets” had turned corporate housing opportunities into the preferred solution for many. Citing “exhausted homeowners who cannot sell their home and…wearied travelers who desire accommodations beyond a stark hotel room,” the report went on to explain that a huge number of people dealing with corporate relocations (as well as home sellers finding a lax market) were finding relief in corporate rentals.

The reports have indicated that whether it was a transferred worker in need of temporary housing until their own home sold, or the homeowners in areas where corporate housing was most needed, there is a growing interest in extended stay situations. In fact, one report noted that most groups are “earning real income on the property and offsetting the financial burden and stress involved with today’s home selling and relocation processes.”

The CHBO annual report for 2016 also noted that relocation still comprise the majority of rentals, and that many pre-conceived ideas and even common myths about corporate rentals are coming to a swift end.

Ending Common Myths

Thanks to the emergence of dedicated networks such as the CHBO Certified program of owners, myths such as “corporate housing is just an extended stay hotel in disguise” have come to an end. Until now, it has been difficult for many people relocating for work to see the term extended stay and think of anything more than a sterile hotel. However, the resources and options in the CHBO Certified program allow potential renters to quickly recognize properties as warm, amenities-rich and ideally located for a longer term rental.

CHBO Certified Property

Another myth that recent changes in the world of corporate housing has overcome is that company owned housing is better and more cost effective. The DIY approach is never going to match the kind of attention to detail, personalization and appeal that properties in something like the CHBO Certified can provide. It is owners that assume all of the costs for management, upkeep, taxes and so on. In this way, optimal corporate housing actually comes at a premium.

Finally, a great change in the world of corporate rentals is that they are no longer seen as for the corporate traveler only. Those who use the CHBO Certified program find that the search engines identify properties to travelers who may need a lengthier rental than a hotel or other extended stay may provide, but who wish for a home-like setting.

There are ongoing changes throughout the corporate housing industry and market. It can be challenging to keep up with them all, and we hope that this ongoing review of such conditions is helpful to property owners eager to extend corporate rentals and extended stay options.