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Educate Maintenance Staff About Reasonable Modification Requests

Educate Maintenance Staff About Reasonable Modification Requests
Apartment maintenance staff may receive reasonable modification requests because of their direct contact with residents. Therefore, it’s important that they be educated in how to respond to such requests. Maintenance Employees & Customer Service Residents may discuss their needs for reasonable accommodations or modifications with maintenance employees prior to mentioning their needs to anyone in leasing or management. For example, if a maintenance employee is in a resident's apartment fixing the sink, the resident may tell the employee that she is having difficulty using her shower and needs a grab bar installed as soon as possible. Understandably, a helpful maintenance employee may offer to immediately take care of it without even mentioning it to the office staff. Management should have a reasonable accommodation/modification policy in effect describing the appropriate process that this type of request should follow. The first question is whether this request by the resident is merely a work order or a request for a modification because of the resident's disability. If this is a request because of a disability, then the next question is: Who pays for this modification? Many management companies of conventional properties have a policy that management will install and pay for a modification that costs less than a specified amount (i.e., $200). If so, then this request would merely need to be put in writing and completed. Reasonable Modification Records The important part of the process is getting the documentation of the request and keeping a record that the reasonable modification was completed. The p......
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Compliance Guidelines For Fair Housing Advertising

Compliance Guidelines For Fair Housing Advertising
Fair Housing advertising issues and violations are more common than you may think.  HUD provides advertising guidelines for compliance which this article covers. In case you're asking yourself why you should read this particular article, the fact is that if you work in the housing industry, you need to know your responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act, because regardless of your position, you are probably "advertising" every day.  Fair Housing advertising involves every member of your team. Fair Housing Advertising Mediums Advertising under the Fair Housing Act doesn't just mean ads in newspapers. The law says you can't "make, print, or publish. . . any notice, statement, or advertisement . . . that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on a person's race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin." That includes such things as applications, flyers, brochures, deeds, signs, banners, posters, billboards, and even pictures in your office. It also means that the things you say about your property in writing, over the phone or in person are covered. Expressing an illegal preference or limitation to one of your fellow agents, brokers, employees, prospective sellers, renters, or to any other person in connection with the sale or rental of your property is illegal. Here are two examples of illegal advertising that you may not have realized were violations of the Fair Housing Act. A maintenance man tells a passer-by that "only real Americans" lived in the apartment complex where he worked. A rental office is decorated with......
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Breaking Through the Fair Housing Wall

Breaking Through the Fair Housing Wall
  As you may have heard, April is “Fair Housing Month.” Oh wait, before I go further, let me say this: “I am not an attorney. This post should not be construed as legal advice, Please consult an attorney if you do have any questions regarding the information contained in this post.” Okay, back to the post. I’m sure we all agree that the passage of Fair Housing laws has been a tremendous force for good in the housing community and in our nation as a whole. As a minority and as a father myself, I’m glad I cannot be discriminated for housing based on my ethnicity or familial status. Equal opportunity in housing is a good thing and should be celebrated. However, I believe that in our attempts to ensure that our people are educated and act in compliance with Fair Housing laws, we may have also created a culture of fear and paralysis which has, in turn, created walls, obstacles and blocks, within our front line people, to providing good, and even “common sense” customer service. Equal Opportunity For Good, Not Bad! I remember being told by someone, whom I was training, that she didn’t offer coffee to any clients out of fear that she would miss someone and be accused of discrimination. When I was the customer care manager of a company in Southern California I received many complaints from people who were denied refunds or credits or other ‘exceptions,’ that actually made good customer service sense, due to “fair housing" conc......
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