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.

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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.

Home Automation and How It Benefits Your Furnished Housing Options

Corporate housing

If you are the owner of furnished housing or you rent furnished apartments to corporate clients, you might already know that such clients need the best in terms of internet connectivity and modern innovations. They need high speed and high volume data options. They require consistent service and may even want a home office. But, is that all that your corporate or extended stay clients want and need?

Think of Home Automation as Added Value…and Revenue

In a CHBO article, we looked at the IoT or Internet of Things and how home automation can add value to a property – as long as you intend to leave it behind when you sell it, of course. In the article, the tech-loving author said, “From the iPad stations (there were three, one on each floor), you could control the Philips Hue lights in each room, adjust the Nest thermostats to the perfect temperature, view footage of the Dropcam at the front door and many other incredibly cool and useful features. You could also do all of this on your smartphone or from your computer. In the end, we chose another house… because the realtor told us that the owner planned to take it all with him.”

So, if the tech friendly buyers want homes because of automation, you can easily see that your furnished housing clients might want it too.

That means we need to review the basic idea of automation before moving forward. It is not a complex term to define and is currently the “ability to control lighting, shading, heating, cooling and security from a smartphone or computer”. Naturally, it requires that you have the different components that cooperate with one another to enable such controls, and the good news is that the technologies associated with automation are dropping in price even s you read this.

And while you might believe it may not offer great returns to those who rent furnished apartments to corporate clients, think again. After all, home sales have already started to reflect the interest and even the standardization of automation. As we mentioned in an earlier article about the emergence of automation, “sales figures show a growth projection of around $9.5 billion by 2015, and $44 billion by 2017 according to wireless industry group GSMA. That’s a clear sign that more and more people will be adopting home automation into their lifestyles, and likely looking for it when they move into a new home.” And when they rent furnished housing for an extended stay.

What Sort of Automation Should Appear in Furnished Housing?

So, you want to rent furnished apartments and homes with automation. This is a wise move, but only if done in the right way. You want it to meet a few key criteria. This includes:

  • Being simple and user friendly to those who rent the furnished housing
  • You need it to be controllable at your end at all times, too (i.e. it has to be accessible from outside of the premises)
  • It needs to be expandable or adaptable to enable future improvements/additions such as appliances and other fixtures
  • It needs to be able to be shut down easily and also remotely
  • It should be a devoid of additional fees as possible
  • It should, ultimately save you money and allow those who rent furnished apartments and homes to enjoy optimal comfort and privacy

That seems like a lot to accomplish, but it is actually easier than ever and is actually an added value for those who are about to rent your furnished housing.

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The Basics

When you rent furnished apartments or homes to corporate clients, you can assume that they already have a measure of comfort and skill with technology. Yet, you still need to make the automation as simple and appealing as possible. You can do that by:

  • Using dedicated touch screens on each level, this could be via an iPad or other tablet, but many systems now include dashboards for easy use. Be sure that your systems are also entirely compatible with smartphones and feature apps that renters of your furnished housing can use
  • Focus your choices on cost-cutting items first. If you rent furnished apartments or homes, consider things like smart thermostats, automatic window dressings or blinds, and appliances and lights that can be activated via the dashboards and the mobile devices. For example, hot water heaters that you can turn on and off when the properties are vacant, coffee makers that can be controlled via mobile device, and so on.
  • Use privately owned and dedicated systems for your automation. Though it can be tempting to invest in systems that have monthly fees for management, you can easily invest in a home “hub” and manually add and control almost every feature, function and element. This can even include security cameras and other unique items. The only exception is home security, which can still be done affordably by purchasing components up front but then paying the monitoring firm an affordable monthly rate.
  • Ensure easy troubleshooting – Let’s say there is a problem with automation in your furnished housing unit. It should be simple for the renter to disable the system or a segment of it without a lot of difficulty or relying on you to do so. If you rent furnished apartments or homes and have someone handling day to day operations, your renters may still have to wait for support if an automation issue occurs. To avoid any major problems, just allow user-end disconnection to enable your furnished housing to remain functional with or without automation active.

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Whether you rent furnished apartments or single-family furnished housing, the issue of automation is likely to crop up more and more often. People have started to expect a certain level of modernization. That could be due to the rise of sites like Airbnb in which many steps are automated, particularly key exchanges and communications. That is all well and fine, but your furnished housing clients will greatly appreciate automation that makes their lives more convenient, and not just yours. Consider the suggestions here and start to rent furnished apartments and homes that are the most advanced on the market.

Go Bigger and Go Home – A Look at Real Estate Upsizing

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Have you, like millions of others, watched the whole tiny homes trend develop? People downsizing their possessions to such a degree that living in homes of 300 square feet or less is the foundation of this trend, and yet it remains strong. Only, it is not as strong as another trend, and that one is known as up-sizing. As one article recently joked, “Downsizing? That’s so 2016. Housing trends indicate a move toward bigger, not tinier, homes…” Yet, this is also indicative of a corporate housing trend, too.

What we mean is this – housing supplies in the larger urban areas are on the decline, and more and more are finding that they can only afford tiny properties if they also wish to remain within the city. As that article noted, many move just outside of their cities and opt to invest in or build larger homes. This leaves a lot of smaller properties available within the cities. These then become ideal candidates as short term apartments, which is part of the increasing corporate housing trend.

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These smaller homes are exactly what traveling professionals desire. Rather than an unwelcome stay in a longer term hotel, the short term apartments with their separate living and sleeping areas, their in-building amenities, and their home-like feel are a superior choice.

The corporate housing trend has been veering away from extended stay hotels and instead turning towards furnished and welcoming short term apartments. So, the upsizing trend, which is leading more and more urban dwellers to head to the nearest suburban regions is a good thing for property investors and supporting the corporate housing trend in one or two bedroom apartments.

Naturally, not all areas are in this exact position, but most of the country’s growing metro areas do reflect this shift. For example, the “median square footage of new homes is up 20 percent since 2000, from about 2,000 square feet to about 2,500 square feet… Fifty-six percent of millennials said that having a large home is important to them, compared with 42 percent of Gen Xers and just 35 percent of baby boomers.”

So, if you are eager to invest in corporate housing properties and furnished rentals, you will find that there are more and more of the smaller, short term apartments becoming available. Choose the right neighborhoods and this exodus into the suburbs will actually work to your benefits.