Friday, March 13, 2009

You know your government is too big when...

... local real estate advertisements are prohibited by law from including the words "family friendly", "private", "kids", "walking" and "playroom", because they are discriminatory.

Despite repeated warnings in state-mandated training sessions that such language could violate anti-discrimination laws in the context of selling or renting an apartment, the seemingly innocuous terms continued to appear in ads.

So this week, real-estate giant Corcoran officially banned more than 200 potentially "offensive" words and even installed new software that makes it impossible for brokers to type them into their ads...

Now, due to a slew of recent court cases and increased enforcement, companies such as Corcoran are taking pains to strip terms such as "bachelor pad," which may discriminate against couples, and the terms "couples" and "family-friendly," which may offend singles.

The Corcoran list considers mentions of nearby churches and synagogues as sinful, while the word "professional" is out because an ad cannot discriminate based on occupation. The company also excised the term "exclusive" because it may be interpreted as meaning racially exclusive.
"Quiet" and "safe" are also banned -- try to figure that out. "People" is a forbidden word. (Who's supposed to be reading these ads?) An ad can't even name the school district the apartment is in!

The guidelines have some Corcoran employees frustrated.

"By saying 'walking distance,' I would be discriminating against those who are unable to walk," Christine Toes, a Corcoran vice president, wrote on the blog "Hopefully, I can still use 'close proximity to public transportation.' "...

However, it is not against the law for brokers to describe a coffin-sized studio as "cozy." [NY Post]