New bill would band landlords from discriminating against people who receive rent help

A news article from November 14 caught my eye from Think Progress headlined “New bill would ban landlords from discriminating against people who receive rental help.” This potential bill might be good news for tenants who rely upon rent assistance in order to find a place to live. For landlords, it might be bad news as the law further restricts the considerations a landlord can make when deciding to whom they will rent. One of a landlord’s biggest considerations is whether or not a potential tenant will be able to pay rent on time or not.

For landlords in Oregon, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that if this bill were to actually pass (although unlikely given the Republican’s current control of the Senate) it still wouldn’t effect you at all. The bad news is, it wouldn’t effect you at all because income source is already a protected class in the State of Oregon.

One of the things landlords must keep track of is that there are protected classes under the National Fair Housing Act, then in addition to those protected classes, there are other State Protected Classes beyond National Fair Housing. National Fair Housing protected classes are: race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status and disability. It might surprise some landlords, for example, that sexual orientation is not a federally protected class. However, the State of Oregon has added four more protected classes, they are: marital status, source of income, sexual orientation including gender identity, and domestic violence victims.

So as it stands today for Oregon landlords, if an applicant can prove the ability to meet your objective rent-to-income ratio, a landlord cannot legally decide against an applicant just because a portion of that income comes from HUD or some other rent assistance program.