CLARK BAR UPDATE: DECEMBER 7TH 2023
By: Christopher R Walker, Esq
Date: December 7, 2023
SOURCE OF INCOME ORDINANCES IN TEMPE, PHOENIX AND TUCSON
As of December 1, 2023, the City of Tempe joined the City of Phoenix and the City of Tucson in adopting an ordinance which seeks to prohibit discrimination in housing on the basis of the source of a tenant or prospective tenant’s income. Through a unanimous council vote, the City of Tempe’s council voted to expand their fair housing rules to include a new protected class, source of income.
Much like the ordinances in Phoenix and Tucson, Tempe has defined source of income as
ANY LAWFUL SOURCE OF INCOME OR SUPPORT THAT PROVIDES FUNDS TO OR ON BEHALF OF A RENTER OR BUYER OF HOUSING AND IS VERIFIABLE AS TO AMOUNT, REGULARITY, RECEIPT, AND LENGTH OF TIME RECEIVED OR TO BE RECEIVED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, WAGES, SALARIES, GRANT, GIFT, LOAN, INHERITANCE, PENSION, ANNUITY, CHILD SUPPORT, SPOUSAL SUPPORT, FOSTER CARE SUBSIDIES, RENTAL ASSISTANCE, SECURITY DEPOSIT OR DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE, INCOME DERIVED FROM SOCIAL SECURITY OR DISABILITY INSURANCE, VETERANS’ BENEFITS, SECTION 8 HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHERS, OR ANY OTHER FORM OF GOVERNMENTAL ASSISTANCE, BENEFIT, OR SUBSIDY. SOURCE OF INCOME INCLUDES ANY REQUIREMENT OF ANY SUCH PROGRAM, ASSISTANCE, BENEFIT, OR SUBSIDY.
The primary focus of the ordinance is to address an issue that some municipalities believe exists, i.e. landlord’s refusing to participate in Section 8 programs. Unfortunately, landlords that have assets physically within the boundaries of the cities of Tucson, Phoenix, and now Tempe will be subject to these rules and will not be able to tell prospective tenants or current tenants that it will not participate in the Section 8 program. All other rules will remain enforceable.
IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THESE ORDINANCES:
· The Ordinances in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson prohibit discrimination based solely on Source of Income.
· Prospective tenants must still qualify under all other legal screening criteria so long as those requirements are evenly applied to all tenants.
· The Ordinances will require you to determine financial qualification based on the tenant’s share of the rent, not including the voucher value. (EXAMPLE: Monthly rent of $1,000.00 with a voucher for $700.00. If the property has an income requirement of three times the monthly rent the tenant would need to make $900.00 per month ($300 X 3) as opposed to $3,000.00 per month ($1,000 X 3).
· If a prospective tenant qualifies under all rental criteria you may not deny them because they hold a Section 8 or public housing voucher.
· Landlords are not able to advertise or make the following statements: “No Section 8 accepted” or “There is a wait list for people with vouchers.”
WHAT THE ORDINANCES DO NOT DO:
· Does not require landlords to lower rent but may not charge a higher rent based solely on the applicant holding a public housing voucher.
· Does not prohibit landlords from enforcing all provisions of the lease up to and including eviction.
· Does not require you to delay eviction cases to allow for rental assistance applications to process.
It is likely that Tempe will not immediately begin to enforce this amendment to their fair housing ordinance. Tempe will likely be working to educate landlords before engaging in enforcement measures. As Tempe expands this protection in the coming weeks we expect there to be more literature from the City which we will include in subsequent articles for your review.
If you have questions about this information, please consult with an attorney.
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