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How to Advertise You Rental Property on the Internet

The Internet is an exceptionally popular and productive medium for residential advertising, because many people begin their search for apartments online. However, posting advertisements and listings online is so easy that you need to be particularly vigilant in complying with fair housing law in all of your online advertising.

Many online services, such as Craigslist, require compliance with fair housing laws and may provide guidelines similar to those listed above that identify words and phrases that may be considered discriminatory.

Understanding the Communications Decency Act of 1996

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was an attempt by Congress to regulate the use of pornographic material on the Internet. The following year, however, the anti-indecency provisions of the CDA were found to be unconstitutional.

What remains of the Act is an amendment that’s been interpreted to mean that operators of Internet services aren’t considered to be publishers of the contents of their advertising and therefore aren’t legally liable for the words and phrases of the advertising that appears in their Internet postings.

Any liability for using discriminatory language, therefore, applies only to the advertisement’s originator. In other words, if you post an ad online, you’re responsible for making sure it complies with all federal, state, and local laws.

Applying the Communications Decency Act to apartment advertising

Although website owners may be immune from prosecution regarding content posted on their sites, you may still be held accountable as an individual or a business for any discriminatory advertising content that you post or have posted anywhere online. The safest course is to strictly follow the provisions of the Fair Housing Act and make absolutely certain that your advertising — wherever you post it — doesn’t discriminate against anyone.

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