Anyone posting a housing ad on Craigslist will have to watch their p’s and q’s. The online classified website now warns rental housing advertisers against posting ads with language that could be viewed as discriminatory. This new policy comes on the heels of lengthy negotiations with the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan, after numerous complaints rolled in.
The center worked alongside the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, filing 78 separate complaints. The complaints cited ads that violated state or federal laws ensuring equal access to housing. Although the center has settled cases with individual posters in the past, this change comes from an agreement with the people behind Craigslist itself.
Nancy Haynes, executive director for the center, expressed her approval with the resolution to MLive, a Michigan-based news source.
“In a lot of cases it was inexperienced or accidental landlords who would see phrases on one ad and put it in theirs,” Haynes said. “This opens up housing for all and what really excites me is there’s more guidance for people who aren’t familiar with the law.”
So what types of phrases and keywords should housing advertisers avoid? According to the article on MLive, Craigslist prominently cautions users about violating fair housing laws by stating a preference for tenants or including any language that could limit or exclude people from answering a residence solicitation. Even seemingly harmless phrasing such as “perfect for a family” or “single professionals welcome” could potentially be discriminating.