Renting to Immigrants: The Laws Affecting Landlords and Undocumented Immigrants

According to the Department of Homeland Security, in 2008, there were 1,107,126 documented immigrants in the U.S. The agency also estimated that the number of unauthorized immigrants residing here totaled 11.6 million. On the surface this would seem to represent a burgeoning housing market of which landlords would want to take advantage. However, tapping into this market is not without its difficulties.

The problems associated with renting to non-U.S. citizens are compounded by the dichotomy between federal and state law, says Professor Michael Seng, Director of the Fair Housing Legal Clinic at the John Marshall Law School. The federal government makes no distinction between a legal or illegal immigrant, so renting to a foreign national is subject to the same standards as renting to a U.S. citizen. The difficulty arises on the state level if you live in a municipality that has made it an offense to rent to an undocumented immigrant. In some of these jurisdictions renting to an illegal "alien" is punishable by the imposition of a fine, but in others renting to unauthorized immigrants is a criminal offense.

Connecticut Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

How much may I charge for rent?
There are several localities that enforce fair rent commission practices. Some of these cities are: Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Colchester, Enfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Groton, Hamden, Hartford, Manchester, New Haven, Newington, Norwalk, Rocky Hill, Simsbury, Stamford, Westbrook, West Hartford, West Haven, Wethersfield, and Windsor. Check with local housing officials, an attorney, or the rent control board for further information to ensure compliance.

May I charge an application fee, late rent charge, or a returned payment fee?
Reasonable cost should always be kept in mind when initiating late charges, as there are no limits placed on the collection of an application fee. However, a returned payment fee must not exceed $20 and must be specified within the lease.

May I use a daily late charge?
Although this is not prohibited, it tends to be a rare practice and generally not encouraged.

How much may I accept as a security deposit?