Fair Housing Act Tip: Watch Your Language!

I was asked recently what the owner of a rental house should do about the next-door neighbor who described as “crazy.”

I posted that query to the Idaho State Bar’s Real Property section.  I got several helpful responses, but by far, the most helpful one came from Zoe Ann Olson of the Intermountain Fair Housing Council:

“Dear Colleagues:

Please, keep in mind that there may be fair housing issue here.  “Crazy” may be understood as a discriminatory term for people with disabilities.  It would be wise to investigate to obtain all of the facts before they act.  The new tenant may live next to a person/neighbor with a disability, and the tenant may have done something that exacerbated their disability and or the neighbor may have harassed the tenant and one would want to assure that the harassment wasn’t because of the tenant’s protected class.  We just need more facts.

I agree, in general, if there is violence, threats of violence and or violations of the law, seek the assistance of law enforcement to de-escalate the situation.  If there is not, a good mediator may help the PM, the owner and the neighbor resolve the situation for future tenants. The property manager and owner might be responsible if there is a fair housing issue and or other legal issue.”


We all (starting with yours truly) need to be more mindful of our language.

Many thanks to my colleague Zoe Ann, who gave me permission to include her quote in this post.

Michael Oswald



Please note: the above post contains educational information. It is not intended as legal advice. Engage an attorney who is licensed in your state to get advice on dealing with any specific legal issue.

© 2019 Michael S. Oswald

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