If you had a specific medical problem, you would want a specialist in that field. It stands to reason then that if you have questions regarding The Fair Housing Act, you would want to reach out to a lawyer that specializes in this.
This article takes a look at when you should consult a fair housing attorney. How this may look will depend on the size of your company and most importantly the advantages of doing so.
Many companies fall into a false sense of security that they have had enough fair housing training that they do not need to consult an attorney when a problem arises. Or perhaps your company is looking for a way to cut costs and wants to avoid attorney fees.
The fact is that fair housing laws are ever-evolving. Along with that, consider the cost of just one fair housing complaint. Consulting a fair housing attorney is an unavoidable part of this industry but it serves as a protection.
Consider one scenario that should always be reviewed by an attorney: updating your company’s fair housing policies. As stated above, fair housing laws are constantly changing and your policies will have to change with them. Your policies not only need to be internally reviewed annually, they also need to be reviewed by a fair housing attorney at least every three to five years.
Keep in mind that if any changes are made, these need to be communicated with all staff. Training and role-playing are great ways to ensure that your team fully understands and knows how to implement any policy changes.
Most small to moderate-sized property management companies do not have the budget for an in-house legal department. So what are alternative options?
Knowing when to consult an attorney is paramount. We’ve discussed policy changes, but what other situations might arise? Perhaps a resident complains or an accommodation request has been made that you aren’t completely sure how to handle. This is the time you absolutely need to consult a fair housing attorney.
One benefit that larger property management companies enjoy is having an in-house fair housing legal department. These can be great assets if your staff know how and when to tap into them.
Be sure that every employee knows when and who they should reach out to if a question or problem arises. Taking advantage of having fair housing counsel at your fingertips will result in fewer complaints and greater compliance.
You invest in many preventative measures around your property. Fire suppression systems and extinguishers just to name a few. You would never think about cutting back on any of these! The same goes for your property’s legal team. They are an intrinsic first line of defense when it comes to fair housing practices and complaints. By investing in your fair housing attorney or team along with ongoing fair housing training you can have the peace of mind that you can mitigate before you litigate!