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Can a Landlord Request Military-ONLY for tenants?

Michele - Sunday, July 11, 2021
Property Management Blog

Since most of our managed properties are a short driving distance from the Pentagon, Ft Belvoir, or Quantico, landlords frequently ask us if we can list their property as available to Military personnel only.

Active-duty Military personnel typically make EXCELLENT tenants!  Nearly half of our tenants are currently serving in the Military or are veterans who have proudly worn their uniform earlier.  These tenants often have excellent credit scores (as required to keep their clearances), keep their home well organized (as a result of their training), are well qualified financially (with a strong base pay and housing allowance) and want to reside in a home for 3 years.  Who wouldn’t want such tenants in their home??

However, Fair Housing Laws prevent us from restricting a property to Military-ONLY tenants.  On the surface, it is not clear why this would be the case.  Fair Housing Laws are in place to protect based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status
  • Disability
  • Elderliness, Source of Funds, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Military Status (in Virginia)

It would not seem that limiting tenant applications to those in the Military would directly and negatively impact anyone in the protected classes listed above.  However, Fair Housing Laws also require that qualifying criteria not have a DISPARATE IMPACT on any protected class.  For instance, restricting tenant applications to those in the Military may limit applications from disabled people or from people who originally come from another country.  Therefore, the Military-ONLY request, while not intended to negatively affect any protected class, actually does.  

The home seller, the home seeker, and the real estate professional all have rights and responsibilities under the law.  As Realtors, in addition to following the law, our Code of Ethics provides a firm statement of support for equal opportunity in housing.  While we do often advertise properties on MilitaryByOwner.com to ensure that our online advertising reaches as many potential Military applicants as possible, we cannot include a Military-ONLY requirement for any of our listed or managed properties.  Fortunately, there are plenty of well qualified applicants, both Military and non-Military, who are currently looking for homes!