The experienced real estate investor with multiple properties knows first-hand how to identify a potential tenant, the vetting process and how to keep a tenant happy throughout the term of the lease.

Finding and keeping good renters is the key tofair housing laws cash flow. Yet the new landlord may find a few missteps along the way, and with any new venture making a mistake or two is to be expected.  Just don’t make the same mistake the next time.

Properly screening tenants is a mixture of verifying a solid rental history and reviewing a credit report. Landlords know how to determine affordability by comparing gross monthly income with the prospective tenant’s current debt load with future rental payments. References are checked and the previous landlord is contacted. And you had better understand Fair Housing.

The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is a wing of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and was established to make sure all Americans have the same access to housing and prevent discrimination. And it’s serious business. You can get sued for discriminating against a protected class.

An advertisement for your rental could say, “Only white males need apply” and your phone will surely ring, all for the wrong reasons. But sometimes discrimination is less obvious. An ad that says “Perfect for a family” might suggest that unless you’re married with children then you need not apply. Or conversely, an ad reading “Perfect for a young couple” might imply not just preference for someone that is married but married with no kids.

To avoid any possible charges of discrimination or steering, keep the descriptions in the ad about the property and not about which group or class of individuals it might most benefit. Even making references that allude to race including “Adult Apartment” or “Right in the middle of the Hispanic district” will get you in trouble. You’ll get used to the proper ways to market your property, but just remember to stick to describing your rental, not prospective tenants.