Phil Querin Q&A: What Needs To Be Posted On Office Walls

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January 25, 2017
Phil Querin
MHCO Legal Counsel
Querin Law

Question. What needs to be posted on the walls of our manager’s office? Do fair housing posters need to be posted - screening criteria, etc.? 
 

 

Answer.  As far as I know, there are no laws that “require” the posting of certain things. I will try to summarize – off the top of my head – two types of information: (1) Things that can be posted without risk of liability; and (2) Things that should not be posted due to potential liability. Remember, these are just my opinions; your own attorney may or may not agree.

 

(1) Things that can be posted without risk of liability.

  • General information about the community, such as maps of the community and space numbers, location of common facilities, etc.
  • Safety information, such as permitted speeds, water hazards, emergency phone numbers such as police and fire, etc.
  • Publically available information such as location of services, schools, places of worship, libraries, etc.
  • If you are a 55+ community, you definitely want that promoted, since one of the requirements to qualify is holding yourself out as a 55+ community, with signs and rules, e.g. a generic definition of what it means and entails.  This explanation should be reviewed and approved by your legal counsel. 
  • If you are a family community, you should say so, including a generic definition of what it means and entails. This explanation should be reviewed and approved by your legal counsel. 
  • General fair housing-type posters, including, perhaps, pamphlets.  It is best if you can secure these through so recognized fair housing organization, such as the Fair Housing Council of Oregon or HUD

 

(2) Things that should not be posted due to potential liability.

 

  • Do not post the names of tenants or any other personal non-public information.
  • Copies of bad checks – Murphy’s Law says the drafter could have some reasonable explanation or bank error, etc.
  • Unless it is vetted by your attorney, I don’t encourage posting a long list of “Don’ts” such as unleashed pets, etc. I say this because it can give the wrong picture of management. If you have them covered in the rules, that’s enough – no need to shout.
  • You’ll notice above that I said “General fair housing-type posters,” etc.  There are several reasons: (a) There are many protected classes, and some municipalities have certain ordinances that add others.  You don’t want to inadvertently miss one or more. (b) Too much information detracts from the message, which is that you follow the fair housing laws. (c) Since there is always a risk of testers coming to the office, you don’t want to open up a discussion about specific protected classes, etc.

 

On screening criteria I would give a cautious “yellow” light.  Remember there always exceptions and if made, it exposes you to complaints from others seeking the same exception.  If there are some simple, basic, criteria, e.g. 55+ rules, OK, so long as there is a proviso stating that they are general in nature, and other restrictions or limitations may apply – and direct the reader to the community rules. So not post any limits regarding occupancy, since the number of permitted occupants in a home can be dependent on the size and  number of bedrooms, and federal law is different that Oregon law. Do not include income formulas, etc., since source of income, e.g. is protected, and you don’t want to post incorrect information.

 

If you have a community-wide “no marijuana” policy, I’m generally OK with posting it, but make it’s vetted by your attorney.