The Fair Housing Act (FHA) was signed into law in 1968 by then-President Lyndon Johnson. FHA prevents discrimination concerning the sale, rental or financing of a property based on race, religion, sex, disabilities and family status. This law also applies to housing-related advertisements.
In late-2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a complaint against social media giant Facebook for violating FHA. Facebook was allowing real estate Brokers to exclude specific demographics from seeing their Marketplace listing. Some of the demographics excluded from advertisements included African Americans, Jews, Spanish speakers and people interested in wheelchair ramps.
Following the complaint, Facebook updated its policies to align with the Fair Housing Act. Now real estate professionals are wondering if their advertisements are compliant with FHA. Here are tips to ensure your online advertisements are compliant with FHA
- Don’t narrow your audience for targeted marketing campaigns. Many social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter allow you to select a target demographic based on several features. When it comes to sponsored social media post broader is better.
- Diversify your advertisements by utilizing inclusive representation in images. Stock photo sites such as iStock, Adobe Stock and Pexels are a great tool for finding inclusive photos.
- Focus on the property, not the targeted buyer. Always include price, location, features and amenities in advertisements. Phrases such as “consigners allowed” or “monthly income must be 3x the rent” are acceptable. It’s important to avoid phrases such as “English speaker preferred” or “assistance programs not accepted.”