Welcome to the age of social media, where sharing your thoughts, experiences, and opinions with the world is just a few clicks away. As our digital presence continues to grow, so does our responsibility to ensure our actions are in line with laws and regulations. In the realm of Fair Housing, where equality and non-discrimination are of utmost importance, navigating social media can be tricky. Therefore, ensuring your social media complies with Fair Housing laws is crucial.
How Do Fair Housing Laws Apply to Social Media?
Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other, from sharing the latest news to connecting with friends and family from around the world. But with the rise of social media as a tool for marketing and advertising, there also has been an increase in the need for these platforms to comply with Fair Housing laws.
At first glance, it may seem strange to connect social media posts with Fair Housing laws. However, it is important to remember that social media is not just a tool for personal use but also a powerful marketing tool. This means that when property management professionals post on social media, they must follow the same rules and regulations that apply to any other form of advertising.
One of the most important Fair Housing laws to follow on social media is the Fair Housing Act. This law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. So it’s vital to note that when advertising a rental property on social media, the language and images used must not be discriminatory. For example, it is not acceptable to use language that implies the property is only available to certain groups of people.
Another important factor to consider when posting on social media is the use of images. Property management professionals must be careful not to use images that could be deemed discriminatory, such as only showing pictures of certain ethnic groups or families with young children.
In addition to the Fair Housing Act, there are also state and local Fair Housing laws that must be followed when posting on social media, including rules around accessibility and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
Social Media Tips for Property Management Professionals
To ensure compliance and avoid discriminatory practices, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Document your policy: A comprehensive social media policy can protect your company by setting clear expectations for what can and cannot be posted online, who is authorized to post, and the consequences of violating the policy.
- Provide training: All individuals should receive comprehensive training on Fair Housing laws, including how they apply to social media platforms. The training should be mandatory and periodically reviewed to keep everyone up-to-date on any changes.
- Show diversity: Use diverse imagery in social media posts, and avoid language that can be perceived as discriminatory. Show a range of people, cultures, and backgrounds to ensure your posts are inclusive and welcoming.
- Use inclusive language: Avoid language seen as discriminatory or exclusive. Instead, use language that is welcoming and inclusive to all. Use gender-neutral pronouns, and be conscious of the word choices you make.
- Review posts: Having a review process for social media content helps ensure it meets Fair Housing laws and company standards. Any potential issues or concerns should be addressed and resolved before posting.
- Include the Equal Housing Opportunity logo: Include the Equal Housing Opportunity logo on your social media pages and website. The logo is a visible reminder that you are committed to fair housing and treating everyone equally.
Social media platforms have become an integral part of the real estate industry, providing a platform for advertising, communicating, and networking. Property Management professionals must be aware of their compliance obligations and take appropriate measures to ensure their content and practices do not discriminate.
Failure to comply with Fair Housing laws on social media can lead to costly lawsuits, damage to your company’s reputation, and legal action by government agencies. As a responsible rental housing professional, prioritizing compliance on all advertising platforms, including social media, is important.
Want to learn more about how to protect your company from Fair Housing complaints? Talk to our multifamily experts today.