Getting a Fair Housing complaint can lead to expensive legal bills and fines for landlords. Follow these customer service tips to avoid complaints:
- Focus on the renter's wants and needs. Sometimes a landlord will show available units based on his or her needs instead of a renter's. This can lead to steering and discrimination. Find out what the renter wants and meet his or her needs first.
- Protected classes are not selling points. Remember that great vacation you took to a foreign land? Sometimes it is exciting to meet a prospective renter with whom we feel a special connection. However, attempting to connect with someone based on a protected class (e.g. national origin, race) increases the risk that you will get a Fair Housing complaint. What if the renter thinks you are making an issue of their national origin instead of just being friendly?
- Let each renter know all of their options. If a renter is looking for a two bedroom and you have multiple two bedroom units available, let him or her know about each one. Fair Housing is about equal choice and treatment. Let renters know all of their options!
- Return every phone call and email. Fair Housing requires that you treat all renters equally. Therefore, make sure you return all phone calls so nobody thinks you are not calling them back based on discrimination. If your advertised unit is no longer available and you don't want to call people back, put a message on your voicemail that states the unit is not available and phone calls will not be returned.
- Treat everyone the same. Treating everyone the same requires that you take a professional approach to interactions with renters. It is a business relationship where you are required to treat everyone the same, regardless of your personal preferences.
- Script your tour. Have a pre-planned, set process by which you show all renters your property and follow it every time. This way nobody receives special treatment and you don't leave room for a complaint from someone who feels like they were provided a lower level of service.