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Returning Students Provide Options for Ann Arbor Homeowners

A new academic year is upon us, and with it, thousands of University of Michigan students are returning to Ann Arbor. And returning students means an increased need for housing. In this two-part blog, we’ll look at two different scenarios which could conceivably affect you, as a homeowner.

First, consider this statement: I’m a homeowner, who’s thinking of renting a room in my home.

Does this describe you? If so, you probably have at least one extra bedroom (or more), and are willing to share other areas of your home (like the kitchen and living room) in order to bring in some extra money. It’s a common practice, especially in cities like ours with major universities, and can provide a host of benefits in addition to the income boost. You should be aware, however, of the fact that there are laws pertaining to the ways in which you advertise and interview for possible boarders in your home.

Remember, once you place yourself in this situation, you’re considered to be a landlord. If you live in a property with four or less rental units (this includes your situation, making your home – for all intents and purposes – a “boarding house”), under the federal Fair Housing Act, you are exempt from all but one aspect of  federal law.  You cannot advertise in a way that indicates a preference for (or against) members of a protected class (race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and disability).
In addition, Ann Arbor is one of the 14 clities, which also include Detroit, Lansing,and Grand Rapids, which include sexual orientation protections in their local ordinances.  Potential landlords cannot bar roomers or other renters based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

There is one exception to this law: you can advertise for someone of a specific sex. As an example, you can advertise for a “female roommate,” but you can’t advertise for a “Catholic female roommate” or a “straight white male.”  Of course, there are those who advertise within the parameters of the law, but still practice discrimination against the protected classes during face-to-face interviews with prospective tenants. A word to the wise: don’t do this! Landlords who do so immediately position themselves as possible defendants against a fair housing claim. Testers from the Michigan Fair Housing Centers are vigilant in assuring that the right of renters are not violated when they seek housing.
You may be thinking about renting a room in your home, or even about moving to a larger space to accommodate your desire for some extra company at home. Let Martin Bouma – your Ann Arbor neighborhood expert – help you to explore all of your Ann Arbor real estate needs. The Bouma Group can answer any questions you have about real estate in Ann Arbor, whether you’re buying or selling a home or condo. If you’re interested in Washtenaw County, Chelsea, or a specific Ann Arbor neighborhood, call the Bouma Group today!

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