This article was written by the Fair Housing Institute
It’s a new year and the perfect time to review your company’s fair housing policies and procedures. Laws and best practices are constantly changing so you need to be sure that you are up to date and fair housing compliant. In this article, we will review why all property management companies need fair housing policies and procedures, helpful resources that are available, and why ongoing training is so important.
Policies and Procedures – Not Just For Large Companies
Whether you have five or five thousand properties you need to have a written fair housing policy as well as a reference list of your procedures. Given that we do see a high employee turnover in our industry these become even more of a crucial resource and training tool. Each new employee needs to be familiar and have full access if they are going to be effective in their position. Having these policies and procedures ensure that everyone is consistent in their behavior.
Along with that, a regular review to ensure that everything is up to date will provide a strong basis for a defense in the event a fair housing violation is claimed.
Resources To Create/Up Date Your Fair Housing Policies/Procedures
Believe it or not, your policies and procedure do not need to be lengthy or complicated. In fact just the opposite. They need to be clear, concise, and easy to understand. A good place to start is with your company’s fair housing attorney. They can help build one specific to your company’s needs. If you do not have access to a fair housing lawyer you can tap into your local housing association as they usually have templates available to their members. Also, the internet can be used as a resource for research and development.
In addition, you want to be sure that your policies and procedures include specific things like reasonable accommodation requests, verification, pet policies, and so on. Basically, anything that The Fair Housing Act requires needs to be included.
Whichever avenue you decide to use, having your fair housing policies and procedures ready and available in the event a fair housing complaint is filed is prudent as this is almost always the first thing asked for during an investigation, and you need to be prepared.
Communicate Your Policies and Procedures to Your Employees
There should be a policy notebook where all the policies of all types are located. And in that notebook, a specific place for your fair housing policies and procedures, along with a list of designations of authority on who can make what decisions. This can serve as a written point of reference for your employees to use when needed.
Also, training, especially when something has changed or been updated, needs to happen consistently. Having regular training and practice sessions can help your staff build the skills required to handle any fair housing situation that may arise.
Last year we saw some significant changes to laws that will directly affect how we do business. Your policies, procedures, and training need to follow suit so that your company is always fair housing compliant.