On Monday, November 4, The Baltimore County Council voted in favor of the “Home Act” which adds a person’s “source of income” to the list of items prohibited in housing discrimination. This legislation means that landlord must accept college students for whom their parents co-sign the lease. Landlords must accept persons using a Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) or any other assistance as payment for the rent.
Baltimore County provides an exception; landlord’s may refuse to rent to Voucher tenants and refuse co-signers if (a) the rental unit is in a building containing 4 or fewer rental units and the landlord owns not more than 3 such rental buildings, (b) the rental of the dwelling is handled directly by the owner or by someone who is not a licensed real estate broker or licensed real estate agent, (c) the landlord offers only 1 or 2 units for rent, or, if an agent, offers only 1 unit for rent, in the most recent 12-month period, and (d) owners does not publish an advertisement stating that vouchers and co-signers are not accepted.
In Baltimore County, landlords and property sellers are prohibited from discriminating based on these factors:
- National Origin
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity or Expression
- Status as a Veteran
Note that offering discounts to someone based on their Source of Income, or to Veterans an another example, is a preference based on that person’s protected class and therefore considered a form of discrimination.
At Ben Frederick Realty, we strongly support policies, procedures, and most importantly, actions, where all people are treated with respect and dignity and the availability of housing is offered regardless of a person’s status in any protected class. We advocate rental property owners and service providers treat everyone with quality service regardless of their status in any protected class. It is encouraging that a HUD study, conducted by the Urban Institute, showed a 90% reduction in the incidence of rental housing discrimination from 1977 to the present.