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"I need it now!"

Apartment residents have come to expect timely and efficient responses to their work order requests.  And those expectations are appropriate – having someone take care of maintenance issues in their apartments is a significant benefit of renting that residents are in fact paying for.   Successful landlords understand this and generally have great policies and procedures in place for their maintenance professionals to meet these expectations.  An industry standard is that if it is not an emergency (no fire – no flood - no blood!), then work orders are prioritized “first come, first served”.  But what some landlords and maintenance professionals don’t understand is that while this standard is generally OK, there are times when it cannot be applied.  And that would be when fair housing comes in to play (you knew this would end up being a fair housing lecture, didn’t you?).  So, when must work orders be re-prioritized?  Not for the whiny resident (assuming that you would ever have one of those!), but most likely for the resident with disabilities.  If because of a disability, the resident needs a work order handled ASAP, pronto, on-the-double, then it needs to be addressed ASAP, pronto, on-the-double.  Here are two examples to consider.  (1) You are in a hot, steamy climate; it is July; 5 air conditioners are on the fritz.  Resident #6 calls in to report that their ac is out, too.  You tell them that you will fix it, but they are sixth on the list.  Then they say, “But I am the resident with emphysema and the heat and humidity are making it difficult for me to breathe.”  Guess what? This is a request for a reasonable accommodation made by a resident who has just disclosed their disability to you.  And guess what else?  They are now #1 on the ac repair list because they have a need based on disability.  (2) You have a waiting list for landlord provided microwaves.  A new resident moves in and asks for a microwave.  You tell them they are being added to the list.  Then they tell you that their physical challenges make it difficult if not impossible to use the stove.  Guess what? This is a request for a reasonable accommodation made by a resident and once again, they move to the top of the list.   One more tidbit – “please” and “thank you” may be magic words; you don’t give your little ones cookies unless they say them.  But there are no fair housing magic words required before you give reasonable accommodation to your residents.  They do not have to say “reasonable accommodation” (it is not like abracadabra although many letters are shared); they need only express a need based on a disability (and you do not get to inquire into the nature or extent of that disability, BTW, but that is a topic for yet another blog).  So be sure that you and your maintenance professionals know how to properly respond when it has to be “last come, first served” under the Fair Housing Act.   

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Fantastic and simple, Nadeen! Great piece!

  Tara Smiley
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Great post Nadeen, thanks for sharing.:D

  Alison Voyvodich

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