Rental Application Sources of Income

What Sources of Tenant Income Do I Need to Accept for my Rental Property?

Navigating the complexities of property management in Philadelphia, I recently encountered a thought-provoking question from Amber during an episode of the Grow Real Estate Investing Podcast. The inquiry touched on a critical aspect of property management: the consideration of various sources of income for tenants, particularly those belonging to protected classes. This question provides an opportunity to delve into the principles of fair housing and the ethical responsibilities of landlords and property management companies.

Understanding Fair Housing Laws

First and foremost, it's crucial to recognize that fair housing laws are foundational to ethical property management. These laws prohibit discrimination against protected classes, ensuring everyone has equal opportunity to secure housing. Protected classes include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status, among others. When Amber mentioned "protected classes" in her question, it raised concerns about potential misunderstandings or misinterpretations of these critical legal standards.

Income Consideration in Tenant Screening

In the realm of tenant screening, one principle stands paramount: all sources of income must be treated equally, provided they are legal and verifiable. This includes wages, social security, welfare, Section 8 vouchers, and any other legitimate forms of income. The essence of fair housing means that a tenant's source of income cannot be the basis for discrimination. Whether a potential tenant receives income through employment, a trust fund, or government assistance, the key factor is the reliability and sufficiency of that income to meet rental obligations.

The Misconception of Income and Protected Classes

The question hinted at a misconception that certain sources of income are tied to specific protected classes or that landlords might have leeway to accept or reject tenants based on these criteria. This notion is not only incorrect but also dangerously close to violating fair housing laws. It's imperative to clarify that such distinctions are not only unethical but illegal. As property managers, our duty is to assess a tenant's ability to pay rent through the lens of financial stability and reliability, not through the source of their income.

Our Commitment to Fair and Ethical Practices

As a leading Philadelphia property management company, our commitment to fairness and equality is unwavering. We strive to ensure our policies, practices, and tenant interactions are in strict adherence to fair housing laws. This commitment means conducting tenant screenings that focus on financial reliability without prejudice towards the source of income. Our goal is to create inclusive, diverse communities within the properties we manage, reflecting the rich tapestry of Philadelphia's population.

Conclusion: Upholding the Spirit of Fair Housing

In conclusion, Amber's question, while rooted in a common area of confusion, underscores the importance of education and awareness in property management. It serves as a reminder of our responsibility to uphold the spirit and letter of fair housing laws, ensuring equal treatment for all potential and current tenants. By embracing these principles, we not only adhere to legal requirements but also contribute to building a more inclusive, equitable community.

To our fellow landlords and property investors in Philadelphia, let this discussion inspire you to reflect on your tenant screening processes and policies. Remember, at the heart of successful property management is a commitment to fairness, equality, and respect for all individuals seeking a place to call home. Here's to fostering rental communities that are not only compliant with fair housing laws but also welcoming to all.


Joe White

Joe White is a Philadelphia Property Manager and Real Estate Broker. He is the owner of Grow Property Management and has been involved in the management, sales and purchases of Philadelphia area rental investment properties since 2008. He is an author and works as a real estate investment consultant and construction manager.

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