The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to credit-worthy women because they have children or plan to have them. However, quite often, women are still denied housing and told the reason is because she has children, or because she is pregnant, or because she is single and doesn’t have a husband to co-sign for her. Sadly, many women who receive this treatment feel that they have no control over the situation and don’t understand that what has happened is illegal and discriminatory. Not long ago, I was one of those women.
A little over three years ago I was searching for a home to rent for my three kids and me. After touring a house with the landlord, we returned to the kitchen where the application was sitting on the counter top. I told him that I’d like to fill it out while I was there. His reaction was one that I was not expecting. He picked up the application and held it while asking me a series of very personal questions: “Where is your husband…When will he be signing the application… Why a three bedroom house?” The landlord also made some extremely presumptuous comments that included: “The tenants are responsible for mowing the front and back lawns, and I think that’s going to be too much for you…” and “I don’t know how I feel about a single mom living here…”
I was a bit surprised by the landlord’s line of questioning and comments, but I politely answered his questions and concerns and expressed to him that if he were to run the background check, credit score, and call my references, he would see that there’s no need for concern. He said he’d have to think about it and escorted me to the door.
Needless to say, after this experience I brushed up on some need-to-know information. But it’s unfortunate to think that I’m not the only woman who has had to experience this kind of discrimination. We can’t really control a landlord who is going to be a sexist jerk, but we can educate ourselves about the Fair Housing Act so that we know beforehand what our rights are. Here are some resources that can help: