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I've had a couple of negotiation dealings with various corporate landlords (for residential housing) in a couple of states, and, basically, every time I would try to negotiate any sort of a remotely creative request, they would refuse to accommodate any such request, covering it up as being prohibited from doing so by the Fair Housing laws.

For example, me making a very economically reasonable offer for both parties to sign a limited month-to-month lease on a brand new and half-empty student housing apartment complex in Indiana after the school year has already started (since they wouldn't be able to fill it up for another year anyways), but they outright refused to even consider it. Instead, couldn't they simply accept any such offers from anyone who proposed it? As long as conditions are the same, e.g. they're still heavily under-occupied? Or do the fair housing laws mandate heavy documenting etc that really does make any such deals impractical?

As a tenant, in which ways do the federal and state fair housing laws diminish my negotiating power and my ability to negotiate some kind of a custom deal from a corporately-staffed landlord? Or do the corporate landlords simply use such laws as a pretext for making the tenant submit?

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    I don't know, but it does sound like the "Can't do that because of 'health and safety' or 'data protection'" that we get in the UK. I suspect the real problem is not that your proposal actually violates "fair housing" rules, but that they'd have to think about whether it does or not - and many people avoid thinking if possible. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Mar 7 '16 at 9:23
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Put simply: the fair housing laws are there to protect the rights of tenants and potential tenants. They limit your negotiating power to the extent you are trying to do something that the law is designed to prevent. There are a lot of laws that could be described as "fair housing" laws, so it's hard to be more specific than that in response to this very vague question.

For example: most jurisdictions have laws requiring notice before eviction and prohibiting or limiting self-help evictions--i.e., the landlord changing the locks and throwing your stuff on the street. If you try to make a "creative" deal that lets the landlord evict tenants on 24 hours' notice, they will refuse. If you offer to get them all-white tenants, or tell them they don't need to finish the ramp because you won't be renting to any disabled people, they will refuse.

Without more details about the "creative" solutions you were suggesting or what laws specifically prohibited them, it's hard to give a more specific answer.

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    The corporate landlords never cite any laws, they just say "fair housing" laws prohibit it, mentioning that if they have to offer it to me, they'd have to offer it to anyone, as if that's a huge problem in itself. Also, I don't think the eviction protections you bring up is part of what is commonly referred to as fair housing laws -- notices before eviction etc are part of the general real-estate law, not related to the Fair Housing Acts of the individual states and the federal government. – cnst Jun 12 '15 at 5:24
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The layman explanation at HUD states:

"No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap

...

Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling"

So, sure, they're not lying if they say they don't care to set different terms or conditions in a rental for you, because you have a race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.

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    I think your reading is wrong. Giving him a deal because he was white would be illegal. Giving him a discount because they're having a hard time filling the units would probably be fine. If there are white tenets that didn't get this discount, it would be tough to show there's a violation of hud. – Andy Oct 27 '15 at 0:21

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