How to Avoid Fair Housing Issues That Can Arise From Waiting List Management Practices

Visual representation of legality of fair housing waiting list.

Fair housing rules are essential for guaranteeing that everyone has equal access to housing options, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status.

The administration of housing program waiting lists is one area where fair housing problems could occur.

Housing providers and property managers must implement waiting list management procedures that adhere to fair housing rules.

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In this blog, we will explore how to avoid fair housing issues that can arise from waiting list management practices.

Waiting List Management Strategies to Avoid Fair Housing Issues

  1. Familiarize Yourself with Fair Housing Laws

Before diving into the specifics of waiting list management practices, it’s imperative to have a solid grasp of the fair housing laws that govern your area. 

The Fair Housing Act, for example, is a federal law in the United States that prohibits discrimination in housing based on the seven protected classes mentioned earlier. 

State and local laws may also provide additional protections. 

Understanding these laws is the foundation for fair housing compliance.

  1. Create Clear and Consistent Policies

To avoid fair housing issues, it’s essential to have clear and consistent policies in place for managing waiting lists. 

These policies should be written, well-documented, and applied uniformly to all applicants. 

Consistency is key to demonstrating that you are not discriminating against any particular group.

Give detailed and clear information about unit sizes, amenities, approximate rents, subsidies or federal programs, the application process, eligibility requirements, and any admission preferences.

  1. Advertise Openings Widely

Make sure that information about available housing opportunities is widely advertised. 

Use various channels, including newspapers, websites, social media, and community bulletin boards, to reach a diverse audience and to advertise effectively.

This ensures that a broad spectrum of applicants has access to the waiting list and helps you attract the best tenants.

  1. Develop an Objective Selection Process

Your selection process should be based on objective criteria that are unrelated to the protected classes mentioned in fair housing laws. 

Common criteria while screening tenants include income, rental history, credit score, and criminal background checks.

Ensure that these criteria are applied consistently and that they are relevant to the property’s requirements.

  1. Maintain Detailed Records

Maintain comprehensive records of all interactions with applicants and the decisions made regarding their placement on the waiting list. 

This documentation can serve as evidence of your fair and non-discriminatory practices if any disputes arise. 

Be sure to record the date and time of applications, any communication, and reasons for acceptance or denial.

  1. Provide Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications

Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers are required to provide reasonable modifications and accommodations to individuals with disabilities

Be prepared to make necessary changes to your waiting list management process to accommodate applicants with disabilities. 

This may include extending application deadlines or providing alternative methods for submitting applications.

  1. Train Staff on Fair Housing

Educate your staff about fair housing laws, regulations, and your organization’s policies.

Regular training sessions can help prevent discrimination and ensure that everyone involved in the waiting list management process is aware of their responsibilities.

  1. Monitor and Review Practices

Regularly review your waiting list management practices to identify and rectify any potential issues. 

This proactive approach helps you catch problems before they become serious fair housing violations.

  1. Use Lottery System for Applicants

According to the recommendations by HUD’s Office of Fair Housing Issues, it is advisable to use a lottery system to put applicants on a waitlist instead of following a first-come basis. 

This approach ensures fairness and equal opportunity for all applicants.


It is a fundamental principle of the housing industry to adhere to fair housing laws, and these laws are a moral imperative as well as a legal requirement. 

It is the housing manager and property management company’s responsibility to implement transparent, consistent, and non-discriminatory waiting list management practices. 

To avoid fair housing issues related to waiting list management, stay informed, train your staff, and regularly review and update your practices. 

Following these guidelines, you can contribute to a more inclusive and fair housing environment. 

To learn more about waiting list management, explore our website to access free webinars.

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