Fair Housing is complicated and ever-changing. Combined with state and municipal laws that can vary greatly, proper training becomes even more critical. But what does that training look like? Should it encompass more than federal laws, and how often should training occur?
More is needed than a basic knowledge of the protected classes. This is because state and municipal laws can change how fair housing compliance is interpreted. Not knowing the laws specific to your area can leave you open to a fair housing complaint.
For example, in Austin, Texas, students are considered a protected category. Meanwhile, in New York City, reasonable modifications are covered at the expense of the property regardless if they are private-market or not. Another example would be when it comes to source of income. Some states view this as a protected category, while others do not.
As a result, fair housing training needs to include an understanding of all laws specific to where your property is located. These are just a few examples. The list goes on.
As highlighted above, fair housing can be challenging and can cover a considerable range of topics and sub-topics. It stands to reason that a one-and-done approach to training will never be adequate. In addition, laws are continually changing, as is their application.
Currently, the industry average for training is every two years. That being said, more and more companies are gravitating to annual training as better practice. Annual training provides staff the opportunity to brush up on skills as well as become familiar with any changes that they need to be aware of.
By having access to regular training, companies are giving their staff the best possible chance to remain fair housing compliant and therefore reduce the risk of a complaint or violation.
Training can and should take many different shapes and sizes. People learn differently, so employing various learning methods will ensure that everyone has access to the information they need.
Thanks to Covid, we have seen an increase in online training offerings. A few things to keep in mind if you choose the online route are: when the course was last updated, what it covers, and whether it provides a way to gauge how your staff is doing. Try to find industry-accredited training programs that include both tests and certifications. Online learning is an excellent way for staff to learn at their own pace and when it’s convenient for them, and it can be easily added to your training suite.
Another great way to help your staff is training via role play. Have you had a recent situation come up that staff was unsure of how to handle? Why not turn it into a teaching/learning experience? Recreate the problem with the team and discuss possible solutions and outcomes. This type of diverse training will reach every style of learner.
And happily, we can also now return to in-person training! Look again for industry-accredited instructors and enjoy the one-on-one training and the opportunity to network.
Fair housing training doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be thorough and regular. You can avoid time-consuming and costly mistakes and create a positive work environment by ensuring that all your staff has access to up-to-date, reliable training in multiple formats.