Apartment hunters hate 'steering' law

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Q: My wife and I are elderly and have trouble negotiating stairs. Partly for that reason, we decided to sell our home and rent a place on one level.

We looked at a really nice apartment complex, and asked to be shown only units without stairs. The leasing agent insisted that "the law required" that she show us all available units, which included some with second stories. This wasted our time, was tiring, and made us think that management at this place doesn’t know what they’re doing. Are we missing something here? –Dottie and Dan M.

A: The leasing agent you encountered is bending over backwards to avoid a charge of "steering." Steering is the term that describes the illegal practice of showing persons of a certain race, ethnicity, sex or other protected class only a certain section of the building or property. In its most insidious form, steering involves sending black prospects to the rear of the building, or prospects with families to an isolated area (or to an area that’s set aside for them), and so on.