Help us fight housing discrimination by becoming a fair housing tester. Testing is similar to “secret shopper” programs used in the retail industry.
What is Testing?
Testing refers to the use of individuals who, without any bona fide intent to rent or purchase a home, apartment, or other dwelling, pose as prospective buyers or renters of real estate for the purpose of gathering information. This information may indicate whether a housing provider is complying with fair housing laws. The primary focus of the testing program has been to identify unlawful housing discrimination based on race or color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, or disability.
The U.S. Supreme Court, Department of Justice, and HUD have recognized that sometimes unlawful housing practices can only be uncovered through testing. Testers can make the difference when it comes to moving a case forward.
What do Testers do?
Testers pose as renters or home-buyers in order to help collect data for a fair housing investigation. Testers meet with landlords, property managers and real estate agents. A factual report of the events is then compiled by the Tester. Tests are conducted throughout the 28 county area covered by the Fair Housing Law Center.
The Tester’s experience is then compared to the experience of a partner tester who is alike in every respect except the protected class: race or color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, or disability. The reports are analyzed by Fair Housing Law Center staff and the results either support or dispel allegations of discrimination.
Some examples of discrimination uncovered in fair housing testing include:
- Failure to waive a “no pets” rule (denial of request for reasonable accommodation) for a service animal;
- Charging higher rent or security deposits for potential tenants with children; and
- Falsely denying availability of an advertised rental unit.
Ideal testers have excellent observations skills and are comfortable recording their thoughts in writing. Access to transportation and computer are also preferred.
Testers are considered paid volunteers. Testers are called on an as needed basis and may be asked to perform several tests in one month, with no tests in the following months. Testing is not a part-time job.
Sounds great! How do I become a Tester?
If you would like to join the testing team and begin making a difference in your community, apply to be a tester Click Here.
Each tester must complete classroom training and a practice test before being given a real assignment. Testers are compensated per test and are also reimbursed for mileage to and from the test site.
Training will be scheduled at a location near you and tests can generally be arranged to fit into your schedule.