Professional apartment community owners and managers have read this from me before: we must stay vigilant with respect to the federal, state, and local fair housing laws which impact our business.

While the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) contains seven familiar protected classes, many states, cities, and counties have laws which include additional protected classes. And those laws get amended regularly. It is up to us to stay current with respect to changes in the law. It will not be a defense to a fair housing complaint for management to claim that we did not know about a amended law in a specific jurisdiction. To illustrate, currently pending is legislation which would amend the City of Philadelphia's Fair Practices ordinance. In addition to changing the Ordinance's name, it would change several definitions and add domestic or sexual victim status, familial status and genetic information to the prohibited bases for discrimination. Source of income has been a protected class in Philadelphia for some time now. Additionally, the bill reorders and clarifies the complaint, mediation and hearing procedures of the City's Human Relations Commission. Some commentators have suggested these changes will reflect a new emphasis on enforcement.

This is but one example of how we must remain pro-active to ensure our jobs are done correctly.