31 Days of Fair Housing (Final Tips)

I KNOW that April only has 30 days and April is Fair Housing Month, but we started early. so don't miss a single day-get the rest at http://aptdynamics.com/blog-posts

Day 26

  • Document everything! EVERYTHING! DOCUMENT!

My favorite is just to open the chat log on our property management software ResMan and type up my notes as a resident talks.  Or take the notes I wrote in an apartment, date them, scan them, and upload them in the documents on ResMan!  Or take pics and upload them. Scan or take a pic and upload inspection notes.  Make it easy-breezy! But whatever you do, DOCUMENT IT!  Document, document, DOCUMENT!  Hmmm…I’ve never had a time I thought I documented TOO much!

Day 27

  • Smells…How do you approach SMELLS?

First, cooking smells!  This is from our industry friend, Nadeen Green, Senior Counsel for ForRent.com and also known as The Fair Housing Lady. Thank you, Nadeen and ForRent.com, for the following: 

What do you do when a resident complains about a neighbor’s cooking odors?  You handle this exactly as you would handle that neighbor’s complaint if it were about cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, pipe smoke, too much Lysol®, too much perfume, garlic or burned Toll House cookies.  No resident has the right to allow their odors, whatever they may be, to intrude into other apartments or the common areas.  It is a lease violation.  Deal with it accordingly, as an “odor”, and keep in mind that who the resident is, where they come from, how they worship, their race, color, or familial status has nothing to do with this.  Just be sure that you can always demonstrate that you have a consistent process for all odor-related issues.

And what about the turnkey for a cooking odor-infused apartment?  You handle this exactly as you would handle left behind odors from cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, pipe smoke, too much Lysol®, too much perfume, garlic or burned Toll House cookies.  If you charge to remedy those odors, you can charge to remedy cooking odors.

Simply put, it is not about the type of odor or the resident, it is about “an odor”.  Handle it correctly and don’t cause a stink…  Thank you again, Nadeen Green and ForRent.com!  Happy Fair Housing Month!

Day 28

  • Did you know that approximately 25,000,000 people in the United States have limited English proficiency! That’s 9% of the population! That’s a LOT!  Please welcome our “melting pot” US residents! 
  • Allow prospects/applicants/residents to bring a translator.
  • Don’t limit what we offer these prospects/residents because they have a limited ability to read, write, speak or understand English.
  • Think of your role as Customer Service - Try to find a way to assist them, whether it’s finding a new home, having work completed in their home, or any of the other myriad of services we provide. 
  • While we require the lease be signed in English, if a resident/applicant has an organization that will translate it for them, or translate our letters for them, encourage that!  Our lease must still be the prevailing document, but if a translation helps them, be a facilitator and share the documents with the translator!

If you have questions, or need help finding resources to help your non-English speaking customers, let us know!

Day 29

Special Thanks to Paul Rhodes, NAA’s National Maintenance and Safety Instructor, for these great tips! 

Respect cultures when handling service requests! 


  • If you typically shake hands, but the prospect’s or resident’s culture does not allow touching, don’t try to shake hands or touch in other ways. 
  • Aluminum foil covering the stove could be part of religious observance (e.g., Jewish Passover). It could be considered a safety issue, so if maintenance enters a home with foil covering the stove, it is important to make sure the resident is aware of the danger, insure the stove is off, and that a fire extinguisher is nearby.
  • A renter may have a religious shrine in his/her apartment.  Part of the religious observance may include burning candles or incense.  As long as candles are handled safely, we do not have a written policy prohibiting their use.  
  • Rules such as allowing religious decorations on exterior doors/balconies/patios must apply to all, whether the policy is that there are no decorations allowed on doors/balconies, or that all may decorate. 
  •  We don’t permit symbols being painted on walls, since the lease specifically requires permission for that.  If when performing maintenance you see walls that aren’t either as originally painted or with our accent walls, whether it’s crayons or paint, let the office know. 

Are there other cultural differences you have run across we should think about?

Day 30

Here are the TOP 10 Ways to Keep Maintenance out of Fair Housing Hot Water!

  1. Keep ALL work documented on work orders in ResMan!  That way if a resident (not if, but when) a resident says we didn’t change their filter or we took longer to do their work than their neighbor’s, we have the facts.  That includes on-call work! Make sure it hits the work order system!
  2. If a resident stops you and asks you to do something, STOP! In all cases either enter it in ResMan from your phone or tablet for them, or call, email or text the office right then. In a nice way, recommend to them that they call it directly to the office next time.  The important thing is to get it in the work order system so it isn’t forgotten!
  3. If you perform the repair they stop you for right then, add it to the work order you’re in their home for or add it to ResMan from your phone/tablet, or call it in to the office for them to enter it at that time. 
  4. If it’s not an emergency, explain to the resident that you are already assigned to complete other work, but get it taken care of as soon as you can get it scheduled. 
  5. If you perform extra work in an apartment, say, you see a leak and repair it, add that to the completed work you enter in ResMan. 
  6. Leave the work area better than you found it!  Clean up after you complete a work order, and take your trash with you.  Little things can make a resident feel mistreated, or that their property/home wasn’t respected, so take care of those little things!
  7. Speak kindly and respectfully to ALL residents, even the ones that aren’t necessarily kind or respectful all the time themselves. 
  8. Just because they give you cookies…Doesn’t mean you can treat them different from other residents!  If you hang pictures for one resident, you have to be willing to hang pictures for another.  Give one resident “special treatment” and other residents WILL see it and feel slighted!
  9. Just because you live on property…You still have to follow policy consistently on completing work, even if it’s for your neighbor!  If your neighbor locks him or herself out after hours, you must handle that the same way you would EVERY other resident, within company policy.  If policy says you can’t let them in, then be open about it being against policy and tell them it could jeopardize your job.  Or if you help with an emergency after hours, it still has to be documented in ResMan like all other work. 
  10. Don’t tell one resident anything about another resident, their household, their children, other occupants, cleanliness, hoarding, customs, anything! You’ve probably seen it happen – it turns into a wildfire, and could have implications for protected classes!  Can you think of others?  Please share them!

Day 31

Here are some parting thoughts for our 31 days of Fair Housing Tips!

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover! And don’t judge a prospect or resident by his/her looks, clothing and more!   Don’t decide whether they are financially qualified, or potentially a “good” or “bad” resident, or provide service to them different because of these factors!
  • Talk less and listen more, getting a perspective of your customer’s needs and wants, straight from their own lips!
  • Be kind and respectful to everyone.  It keeps you out of Fair Housing and other trouble!
  • Acknowledge mistakes and apologize when it’s appropriate.
  • And as said before, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! 

Thank you for great participation and dedication to FAIR HOUSING!