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Targeted Apartment Marketing For Qualified Traffic – Bedroom Versus Office

Apartment Marketing for Qualified Traffic

I absolutely love targeted apartment marketing ideas, as long as they are within the confines of Fair Housing rules.  I recently found this conversation about a marketing approach that catered towards professionals versus students.

Apartment Marketing for Qualified Traffic

I want to note that the point of sharing this is not to advocate against students by saying they are bad renters, but rather highlight how property managers use targeting strategies to fit their particular goals.  It just happened that these property managers favored professionals rather than students, but there are obviously countless strategies that would work in the opposite way to attract students. 

It appears that the fear of Fair Housing often leads property managers to water down their apartment marketing to appeal to every single person possible, but I think this is a brilliant approach to using the wants/needs of their target demographic to drive interest from a particular group.  (Although their use of "young" is probably not appropriate from a Fair Housing perspective)  Anything that (legally) gets us out of the one size fits all mode I think is a step forward, in my opinion.

(To some property managers who have been in this industry a long time, targeted marketing like this is nothing new, but please keep in mind that we always have a fresh group of new, inspired property management professionals who are looking to expand their knowledge!)

Brent Williams is Chief Insider of Multifamily Insiders.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn or on Facebook.

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When it rains, it pours...

…but do you take a prospect to tour the community?  What if there is lightning or thunder, a tornado warning, or high winds?  What if it is getting dark?  What if the humidity is high and your hair will get frizzy?  And of course, the age-old (at least in property management) question, what if the prospect is scary?  What if the prospect is really scary – as in Ted Bundy or Hannibal Lecter scary?    Well, the answer is, “it depends”.   And ere I be accused of equivocating, let me elaborate (I love to elaborate).   No one in the fair housing world really cares what your policy is.  But there are good risk management steps to take to be sure you do have a good one…   Think it out.  Based on staffing, risk tolerance (both of the company and/or owner, as well as the leasing staff), local conditions (usual weather – no hurricanes likely in Iowa; blizzards less likely in Florida), time zone and the like, establish a policy for when and how (photo IDs?) you show apartments that makes sense for your operation. Write it down.  Once you have figured out the when and how you show apartments, create a written and dated policy for your records.  “Put it in writing” is a good idea here. Follow your policy.  Hey, you thought it out and you created a policy; it would be really smart now to adhere to it. Document that you do in fact follow your own......
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Do the Math! Are You Really Senior Housing?

When a prospect with a child (or children) wants to rent from you, you can turn them away because of that child even though the Fair Housing Act protects people with children from housing discrimination (i.e. familial status discrimination).  But in order to do that, your community must in fact be a bona fide, legal “senior housing” one.  You probably know the occupancy numbers to qualify for the senior housing, i.e. the percentages and age demographics for 55+ and 62+ communities.  But these are not the only “numbers” of which you need to be aware.   In order to qualify for the senior housing exemption, you must have a routine age-verification process. This is a requirement that many senior communities are overlooking (or perhaps even ignoring – ouch!).  And this is a requirement that fair housing folks are using to bring cases against the senior housing industry.   If you are not already doing so, keep in mind: You must affirmatively elect to be senior housing.  How and where have you done this?  In your corporate records and by-laws; perhaps with your city or county zoning office?  Where does it say officially that you exist to provide senior housing? You must have an age-verification process and records.  How and when do you determine the ages of your leaseholders and other lawful residents?  Where are the records showing these ages?  It does not matter if all of your residents are 100 years of age or older if you did not verify those ages......
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Fair Housing and Maintenance - No Fondling, Please

Sexual harassment in housing can often be brought under the umbrella of Fair Housing, with all of the potential for the significant costs related to fair housing cases (see my recent blog on “Who Cares?” to understand the financial impact and liability).  Fair housing law precludes unfavorable treatment because of protected class status.  And one of the federal protections is sex (which does not mean doing it; it means gender).  When there is sexual harassment it is always based on gender – a maintenance professional who is a straight male will choose females to harass; if he is a gay man, males will be his victims.  A maintenance professional who is a straight woman will harass males; if she is a gay woman, females.  And those who are transgendered will choose harassment victims based on gender as well.   There are a surprising number of cases (at least it is surprising to me) of landlords and maintenance folks harassing residents and even requiring that sexual favors be granted in order to have a work order completed.  In one particularly creepy case the maintenance staff (guys) were going into the apartments of single women and watching the women sleeping in their beds.  BTW – when the management company ignored the women when the complained that was not a good plan – the settlement in that case was for $1.67 million.  Ouch!   And then there is the recent story I heard from a resident who could not understand why the cable company......
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FAIR HOUSING AND MAINTENANCE - AIDS is NOT an issue!

 Here is my third sequential post on fair housing issues that can impact maintenance employees.  I have been teaching fair housing to our industry for 23+ years now (somehow that was never the plan and I still sometimes look around and wonder how this all came to be) yet I still get the question about AIDS.  In fact, I have had the question asked of me twice in just the past couple of weeks.  The question is about the special precautions that should be taken by maintenance when doing a work order for a resident who has AIDS (or is thought to have AIDS).  So what precautions should be taken?  (Hint – it is a one word answer – cue the Jeopardy! music please.)   And the answer is:  NONE!  Yep, that’s right – no special precautions based on the resident when working in an apartment.  Precautions should never be special, they should be standard for the type of work order, not the resident.  So if you are working on a toilet – anyone’s toilet - it might make sense to wear gloves and spray with bleach.  (Especially because while you are likely not going to get AIDS from working on a toilet, there are other nasty diseases you just might catch -  hepatitis comes to mind.)  If you are worried about catching air borne disease from residents, feel free to wear a mask – just wear it for anyone.  Every community should have its work order protocol as to how......
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FAIR HOUSING AND MAINTENANCE - Get your priorities straight!

  This is the second in a series of fair housing posts related to maintenance (just so you to know in case you want to read the previous post or stay tuned for some others).  A question for those of you who are maintenance professionals – today you have 5 work orders; which resident gets theirs seen to first?  You should have a written policy that answers that for you, perhaps based on the type of work order, when it was received, or the time that will need to be put into addressing the problem or the situation.  But whatever your policy may be, here is what you need to know.  If a person with a disability (PWD) needs (not wants, but needs) their work order addressed ahead of others, you likely will have to do that.  This is called a “reasonable accommodation” and it is required of you under the Fair Housing Act for any PWD.   Let me illustrate…   It is hot, muggy and miserable, and you have 5 work orders to repair ACs.  You would normally fix each AC in the order in which you received the work orders.  Everyone is anxious and cranky with the heat, you are overwhelmed (with both the heat and the work), and then the last resident to put in an AC work order informs you that their child has cystic fibrosis which impacts that child’s breathing ability, and that with the oppressive heat their child will be having more difficulty breathing.  ......
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Fair Housing and Maintenance - Who Cares?

This is the first of several posts I am planning with a focus on some of the fair housing issues that can arise for maintenance professionals.   As an industry we tend to sometimes overlook the maintenance side of the business when it comes to fair housing education, focusing instead on the leasing and front office folks.  Or at least that is my theory.  And my theory will now be put to the test, because here is what you may not know about MFI blogs.  Those of us who are regular MFI bloggers get to see our “stats” – including how many people read each of our posts.  I will be watching to see if my “maintenance” posts draw a lesser readership.  Hmmmm…   Perhaps I am being a tad pessimistic with the above blog title of “Who Cares”?  Maybe you do (well, actually you likely do care or you would not have read this far).  But if you don’t, let me try some persuasion here as to why perhaps you should.   Liability cannot be delegated!  (Maybe I won’t get readers at all if I say boring things like that.)  What does that mean?  It’s about accountability, and if a maintenance professional makes a fair housing mistake, you can be held accountable.  You can be held accountable if you are that maintenance employee (even if your manager told you what you were doing was OK or you did not understand that there was a fair housing issue). You can be held......
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Blacks Actually Do Get Old

I was recently on the hunt for an old fair housing case when instead I came across a totally unrelated one (from 15 years ago!) that is still relevant and that reminds me of a message that probably needs reiteration.   Information published early this year (National Vital Statistics Report) shows that based on the preliminary US mortality data for 2010 (the most recent data available), the average age of death for African Americans in the US is 75 years of age.   From that I draw the stunning conclusion that is the title of this post:  Blacks actually do get old.  Why is that stunning to me?  Because if you look at the advertising for senior housing you might think that only white people make it to old age.  And that is because it is often only white people that you will see in such advertising.   So I thought it was time to remind those of you in the senior housing industry of a few things: Yes, the Fair Housing Act does in fact apply to you.  The one and only exemption you have under the FHA is that if your community is properly senior housing (and there are rules for that – when was your last age audit?) then you do not have to rent to people with children; i.e. the familial status provision does not apply. Yes, the Fair Housing Act still requires diversity when people (“human models” in FHA-speak) are used in advertising.  This has been......
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Barking Up the Wrong Tree

This is a story (brace yourselves) about a landlord who successfully (gasp) achieved a dismissal of a complaint involving reasonable accommodation of a service animal.  The landlord did not win because of the facts of the case; the landlord won because of good documentation verifying the facts in this case.  The best facts in the world will not win your fair housing cases – proving your facts as facts will.   (Having a good attorney helps, too – in this case it was Mike Williams with Fowler, Hein, Cheatwood and Williams.)  When the resident filed this complaint, she was barking up the wrong tree.  And she even barked wrong:   ·        Resident said she had a small mixed terrier as an emotional support animal.  (Dog actually weighs 60 pounds) ·        Resident said the dog-biting incident involving her dog happened on January 20th; records show it was the 28th. ·        Resident claimed “no one got hurt” by her runaway dog; records show that the neighbor’s dog suffered multiple bite wounds on his face and neck which exposed muscle and was treated at a local animal hospital. ·        Resident said no reports were filed with management; yep they were – the Security Officer (oh, let’s maybe call him something else) did a report as he was on duty at the time and interacted with all involved right after the incident. ·        When the Resident’s dog thereafter miraculously went from a mere pet to a service animal (courtesy of correspondence from the Resident’s doctor), the......
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Creating an Objective Rental Policy

Let’s be honest, whether it is an interview for a job or meeting with an applicant for a rental it’s easier to work with someone you like that someone you don’t.  In a seat of power where you are the decision maker it becomes important to outline what you are looking for so that you remain protected from showing any type of discrimination that can be used against you.  In the rental process this is especially important because making decisions based on subjective information can open the door to all sorts of fair housing violations.  Follow these 5 tips on creating an objective rental process and you will greatly improve the protection of you and your owner’s best interests. Spell It Out: A clearly defined policy, in writing, that is included with your rental documentation that every applicant receives will alert them to any requirements they may not meet.  While this might not deter them from applying for a unit, it will certainly help to make your job easier if you are forced to deny their application. Be Consistent: If you receive a credit report, an eviction report, a criminal report and verify past references on one applicant – you have to do it on ALL applicants.  By asking for this information on one applicant and not another it shows that you are basing your decision off of personal views.  Should the applicant fall into a protected class, they can argue this as the reason for your additional research which is......
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