We’re such fabulous tenants. Who wouldn’t want to rent to us? As it turns out, lots of people. A new federal study has found that gay couples have a harder time finding a place to rent together than straight couples. And if you think this is a problem confined to East Jesus, Texas, think again. The study focused only on 50 metropolitan areas.
The study, produced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), relied on a simple test. Researchers responded to online apartment ads with two emails. One purported to be from a heterosexual couple. The other seemed to come from a same-sex couple. The emails from the fake same-sex couples regularly received fewer responses than those from the supposed straight couple. Gay men were more likely not to get a response than lesbian couples. Altogether, the researchers conducted more than 6,800 tests. The researchers found no pattern in the treatment that was related to the size of the metropolitan area.
One of the surprises: antidiscrimination protections aren’t all that protective. According to the report, states with those protections “show slightly more adverse treatment for gay men and lesbians than results in states without protections.” The study suggested that might be because of low levels of enforcement, landlord unfamiliarity with the law or that states with protections were more likely to be discriminatory in the first place. Given where protections exist, we can buy the first two, but the idea that California is worse than Alabama is hard to swallow.