Welcome to Issue #23 of Ethics Thursday brought to you by the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS ® (GMAR).
GMAR created this newsletter, each issue dedicated to a unique issue, because the REALTOR ® Code of Ethics, on which our industry is built, is the foundation of what it means to be a REALTOR ® .
Your proactive support of the Code of Ethics will assure your fellow REALTORS ® , as well as members of the public, that every member of GMAR operates under the highest ethical standards.
Questions, comments or concerns regarding this issue can be directed to
Scott Bush at the GMAR Office (414-778-4929 or scott@gmar.ws).
Test Your Fair Housing Knowledge
Article by Debbi Conrad, Senior Attorney and Director of Legal Affairs
Published April 8, 2019 by the Wisconsin REALTORS ® Association
Choose the best answer to these questions.

1. The owner lives in one unit of a three-unit rental property and has heard fair housing law does not apply to owner-occupied properties. Can she refuse to rent a unit to a couple with children?
  • a. No, under federal and state statutes, it is generally unlawful to refuse housing to any family with children under the age of 18, including women who are pregnant, unless the housing project meets the criteria for housing for older persons.
  • b. Yes, one exception to the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), referred to as the Mrs. Murphy rule, exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units from the FHA. 
  • c. No, Wisconsin law does not exclude owner-occupied housing from fair housing law, so the owner refusing to rent to a family would violate Wisconsin law.
  • d. Yes, she has the right to determine who lives in the building where she lives, and she wants peace and quiet.

2. What should the broker do if a buyer asks for information relating to the ethnic composition of a neighborhood?
  • a. If asked for such data, REALTORS® should refer buyers directly to the U.S. Census; the school district; or other recognized, reliable, independent and impartial sources of demographic data. 
  • b. The broker may share his or her personal observations about the people seen in the neighborhood and their ethnicity because the buyer asked.
  • c. The broker should tell the buyer it is illegal for the buyer to consider the ethnic or racial composition of a neighborhood because that means the buyer is discriminatory.
  • d. REALTORS® cannot give such information because Article 10 says, “REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”

3. A buyer with a disability wants to rent an apartment and is requesting a ramp on the outside of the building. Must the landlord allow this?
  • a. Yes, both federal law and Wis. Stat. § 106.50(2r) prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and enable a person with disabilities to make reasonable modifications to a property that the person occupies if the modifications are necessary for the person with disabilities to have full enjoyment of the housing.
  • b. No, the landlord need not allow changes to the exterior of buildings on the property.
  • c. Yes, the landlord should allow the reasonable modifications at the tenant’s expense and also may require a restoration agreement with the tenant paying into an escrow account under Wis. Stat. § 106.50(2r)(b)3 but may not increase any customary security deposit.  
  • d. Yes, both A and C.

4. The seller instructed the agent no children would be allowed to attend showings. Might this be construed as discrimination against a protected class? 
  • a. No, because the seller indicated there would be no problem selling to families with children, but the seller just does not want children present for the showings, and the seller has the right to decide who shall and shall not be allowed in the house.
  • b. Yes, if the seller excludes children from showings and open houses, this may send the message that families with children are not welcome or desired as purchasers, resulting in de facto discrimination where the actual effect was not the intended result but is nonetheless illegal.
  • c. Yes, and the seller must abide by the listing contract: prepare the house and store valuable items to minimize the likelihood of injury, theft, or property damage and not discriminate in violation of fair housing law. 
  • d. Yes, both B and C.

5. Can a landlord, under Wisconsin law, deny a tenant with an emotional support animal (ESA) if the apartments have a no-pets policy? 
  • a. No, if an individual has a disability and a disability-related need for an ESA, it is discrimination under Wis. Stat. § 106.50(2r)(bg) for a person to refuse to rent housing to the individual. 
  • b. Yes, if the specific animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to a property that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation.
  • c. Yes, if a tenant’s disability or disability-related need for the ESA is not apparent or known, and the tenant would not provide reliable documentation of the tenant’s disability and the disability-related need for the ESA.
  • d. Yes, if the tenant’s documentation is not from a health care professional licensed or certified in the state of Wisconsin and acting within the scope of his or her license or certification. 

6. An agent has a two-bedroom apartment for rent, and a potential tenant asks about renting. It turns out to be a husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, and two children. Does the agent have to accept the application?
  • a. Maybe, both federal and state law provide that it is not discrimination based on family status if property owners comply with any reasonable federal, state or local regulations or ordinances that relate to the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a housing unit. 
  • b. Maybe, occupancy standards may be created to meet legitimate reasons, such as health and safety of the occupants, preventing overcrowding or infrastructure limitations.
  • c. Maybe, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1998 issued guidance setting a general standard of two persons per bedroom, but this is not an ironclad, automatic standard, and other criteria must be considered such as size and number of bedrooms, size of unit and age of children. 
  • d. All of the above.

7. Which statement is false? Affordable housing:
  • a. Is one of the local comprehensive planning goals under Smart Growth.
  • b. Is just for low-income workers and does not affect people at other income levels.
  • c. Is needed for nurses and teachers who cannot live in the community in which they work.
  • d. Is an integral component of fair housing and Equal Housing Opportunity.

8. Which of the following is not a requirement for a condominium qualifying as a “55 and over” housing project under fair housing law?
  • a. At least 80 percent of the units must be occupied by at least one person who is 55 years old or older.
  • b. The condominium association must adhere to policies designed to provide housing for older persons. 
  • c. The condominium ads state that it is “adult living” or an “adult community.”
  • d. The condominium association verifies ages and occupancy using surveys and affidavits.

9. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against people with disabilities. Which is not true?
  • a. Title III of the ADA prohibits entities that own, lease, lease to or operate a place of public accommodation from discriminating against persons with disabilities. Covered businesses include hotels, restaurants, sales establishments including real estate offices, and offices of professionals such as attorneys and CPAs.
  • b. If a real estate broker or salesperson has a home office in which business is conducted with clients, that portion of the home need not comply with the ADA because it is part of a private residence. 
  • c. Architectural and communication barriers are to be removed in existing public accommodation facilities where such removal is readily achievable, for example, by installing ramps, rearranging tables and chairs, adding raised markers on elevator control buttons, or widening doors.
  • d. Model homes are not subject to the ADA if they do not include a sales office and if they are not part of a public display for a fee, such as a parade of homes. 

10. Where can people go to file a complaint if they believe they have been a victim of discrimination?
  • a. The enforcement agency for the federal Fair Housing Act is the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); a complaint can be filed with HUD online, via email, on the phone or in the mail. 
  • b. A complaint against a real estate licensee who illegally discriminates may be filed with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
  • c. The enforcement agency for the state open housing law is the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development, and a complaint can be filed there. 
  • d. A complaint can be filed with a local equal opportunity agency if a local fair housing ordinance has been violated.

ANSWER KEY: 1. C, 2. A, 3. D, 4. D, 5. all, 6. D, 7. B, 8. C, 9. B, 10. all