Landlords who own apartment complexes or other forms of residential rental properties provide necessary housing for people from all walks of life. In many ways, complying with the complex regulations that apply to residential property management in the Detroit area is complex. Anti-discrimination laws and rules that seem to limit landlords in securing agreements with residents are not always as clear-cut as they should be. In other situations, discriminatory practices may seem fairly obvious and easier to avoid for a proactive landlord.

Many landlord-tenant disputes, and even claims of discrimination in renting, can erupt when a disgruntled tenant or applicant makes some sort of complaint – either directly to the landlord or property manager, or externally. However, city or state officials may act without a complaint to search for reasons to investigate residential landlords. A recent story in the Detroit Free Press highlights how a landlord’s potential misunderstand of local regulations can lead to significant legal problems.

A Sting Operation Leads To Large Fines

Lansing housing officials recently sent out a group a so-called “testers” to see how landlords were choosing potential tenants for single bedroom units. The housing agency apparently decided to focus on a rule regarding single bedroom units and prospective tenants who had a small child. The local housing agency pursued legal action against the owners of several complexes for their alleged violation of housing rules. The property owners were given substantial fines.

The story highlights how important it is for landlords to work with legal counsel proactively to avoid misunderstandings down the road. Risk management is an effective way to protect your investment in rental real estate complexes. While an ounce of prevention may sound cliché, the overall savings in the long run that landlords can achieve with proactive risk management guidance and advice on the local regulations that impact property managers and landlords is critical to the success of a housing complex.

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