Category: Blog Roll

7 Important Things to Keep in Mind When it Comes to Fair Housing Compliance

Everyone in the multifamily industry should be familiar with the Fair Housing laws, but there is a lot to remember. Here’s a scary thought – you are held accountable and subject to consequences for violating Fair Housing laws, even if you are not aware you’re doing it! With this in mind, it’s important to carefully and thoughtfully consider policies and procedures to ensure you and your team are in compliance with the Fair Housing Act. This is especially true as you work to navigate the unfamiliar and rapidly evolving state of business during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll discuss some tips and ideas you can use as a sort of preventative maintenance for Fair Housing compliance. As you work through the decision-making process around your policies and procedures, remember to think beyond today. Consider the impact your decisions will have both today and further down the road.

· COVID-19 related information needs to be accurately communicated and updated when the information changes.

· Clearly outline the COVID-19 related reasoning for exceptions to existing policies and procedures so that won’t be perceived as preferential treatment when those exceptions no longer apply in the future.

· Never disclose personal information about a known infection.

· If asking questions related to safety precautions, always respond consistently.

· Take note of HUD’s new ruling revising Disparate Impact Standards effective 10/26/20. This new ruling:

· Provides greater defenses for housing providers,

· Requires the plaintiff to provide more proof of the adverse effect,

· Adds affirmative defenses to disparate impact claims.

Another area to examine and clarify is accommodations and modifications. First, make sure you are clear on the definitions of the terms used:

Reasonable Accommodations: A change, exception or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use spaces. What constitutes an unreasonable accommodation? A request would be deemed unreasonable if it were to impose an undue financial burden or administrative burden on the housing provider or if it would fundamentally alter the nature of the business operation. Whether or not a request imposes an undue financial burden is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Reasonable Modifications: Structural change made to existing premises, occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability, in order to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises. When a modification is needed, who pays? In most jurisdictions, the disabled resident is responsible for the cost of the modification. However, guidance for any community that falls under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is different. In addition, the disabled resident is responsible for making reasonable restoration to the interior of the apartment to return it to its original condition before termination of occupancy if the modifications will interfere with the next resident’s use. Take note, the disabled resident cannot be charged a higher deposit because of the modification, but you CAN require the establishment of an escrow account to fund the removal of the modifications. When it comes to the

installation or removal of the modifications, your rules should be clearly stated regarding who is deemed a qualified installer.

Refusing Requests: When you determine that a request should be refused, tread lightly. Before delivering the information to the resident, speak to your legal team so you can be sure your language is within compliance and that you should definitely refuse the request.

Service Animals: Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability. However, HUD has a much broader application for the definition of a service animal and does not limit to dogs only, so be sure to stay up to date on what constitutes a service animal under Fair Housing guidelines.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment falls under two main types – hostile environment and quid pro quo. Sexual harassment is actually a topic covered under Fair Housing and can be applied as follows:

· Vendors: In cases where a vendor is guilty of sexual harassment of a resident, both the vendor and the community can be held liable for violations.

· Responding to Allegations: Take all allegations seriously and address the concern promptly.

· Being Victimized: Speak to a supervisor immediately if you feel you are being victimized. If the harassment is coming from a supervisor, go over their head to report.

· Domestic Violence: In 2016, a HUD ruling called to protect victims of domestic violence who avoided calling the police for fear of a lease violation. Be sure to check with your legal team to ensure any policies you have around police calls and lease violations are in compliance with this ruling.

Marketing and Discrimination: Discrimination in marketing can come not only from excluding particular protected classes, but also from showing a clear preference for one protected class over another! Instead of focusing on any classes, focus your marketing on the community itself. When choosing stock photography, be sure to represent all different types of people and take care not to consistently represent any particular class in an undesirable manner. Another idea – instead of using stock images, use pictures of you and your team! This allows people to see a familiar face.

Social Media: Keep your work presence and personal presence on social media separate! Avoid allowing those to overlap to limit possible perceptions of preference.

Click here to access additional COVID-19 and Leasing Multifamily Training Resources

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Contributed by: Wesley Aleshire
Training and Design Consultant at Aleshire Consulting

Wesley Aleshire has worked within the property management industry for over 20-years; during this time, he has grown from a part-time leasing processional to a senior director and participated in state and local boards and education committees.

His presentation style engages each audience with stories and analogies that connect harsh realism and humor to relatable situations.

Wesley‘s passion for Learning & Development has driven him to find new and creative ways to engage his audience by considering the topics’ granular details and anticipating responses with a thoroughly thought-out experience. 


Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with a well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.

4 Keys to Mastering Emotional Intelligence

Guess what? Studies have shown that in the workplace, emotional intelligence (EQ) can actually have a greater positive impact than IQ! A person with a high EQ can earn promotions more easily and has greater success in leadership roles. Emotional intelligence is about being aware of your emotions and understanding how to express them effectively. Mastering emotional intelligence starts with understanding the emotions of others so that we can successfully approach interpersonal relations with empathy.

To begin, let’s take a look at the neuroscience of emotional intelligence. Different parts of the brain play different roles in the anatomy of emotion. The front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is the thinking and rational center of the brain. This part of the brain controls empathy, impulse control, emotion and decision-making. The hippocampus is the learning center of the brain. This helps us retain information and determine how we will react to certain situations or stimuli. The amygdala, in the center of the brain, is where irrational thinking takes place. This type of thinking can be influenced by the presence of adrenaline which can induce the fight, flight, or freeze response. When the amygdala responds before the rational thinking portions of the brain can catch up, the results can be destructive especially when more than one person is in this state.

The brain is an “open system”, meaning it is susceptible to outside influences. In other words, a person can experience a sort of “emotional contagion” where the emotional response of someone else triggers a similar or reactive response in themselves. This can work in both positive and negative situations. We can practice the following 4 keys to mastering emotional intelligence to help remain in control and avoid “amygdala hijacking” or “emotional contagion”:

  1. Self-Awareness – Self-awareness is the ability to accurately recognize and name our own emotions as we experience them. You can improve self-awareness when you:
  • Build knowledge and understanding on the topic
  • Try different assessments to find out where you stand
  • Meditate/Reflect
  • Ask trusted friends for honest feedback
  • Seek formal feedback
  1. Self-Management – Self-management speaks to how we respond to our emotions and involves behavioral self-control, adaptability, motivation, optimism, and achievement orientation. The following tips can strengthen your ability to self-manage:
  • Identifying triggers
  • Journaling
  • Counting to ten
  • Holding yourself accountable
  • Seeking effective motivation
  1. Social Awareness – Social awareness involves attention to the world around us with organizational awareness and approaching social situations with empathy. Build on social awareness by:
  • Starting with self-awareness
  • Taking a course on effective communication
  • Observing others and their emotions
  • Practicing empathy
  • Looking for formal feedback
  1. Relationship Management – Relationship management is helping others to maintain productive interpersonal relationships. We achieve this through positive influence, inspiration, help with conflict management, team building and efforts to develop, and coaching and mentoring others. In addition:
  • Ask more questions
  • Express appreciation
  • Practice a servant leadership mindset
  • Again, seek formal feedback

Each of these core skills needs to be achieved in chronological order as each builds upon the former. The first two skills are personal competencies and require us to become personally responsible for how we as individuals choose to respond to emotional stimuli. An important ingredient in mastering emotional intelligence is empathy – the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is different than sympathy, which is simply feeling sorry for how another person feels but not taking the time to understand it personally. The more you can fine-tune your ability to understand your own emotions and the emotions of others, the closer you will be to mastering emotional intelligence!

Click here to access additional COVID-19 Multifamily Training Resources

Read more like this from Edge2Learn

Contributed by:

Kathy Vance
Property Management Content Strategist – Ellis Partners in Management Solutions, Edge2Learn

Kathy is an independent coach and consultant. Her career spans over 37 years in the apartment industry where she held roles onsite in leasing and management, as a regional manager with a portfolio of over 2300 apartment homes in 4 states, and in human resources supporting learning and development for over 1000 employees. Kathy has been a CAM instructor both in the classroom and online since 1999. She has a Bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Dayton and is a graduate of Accomplishment Coaching, an affiliate of the International Coach Federation. She currently works with Edge2Learn as the Content Curator – providing insights to make course content relevant to the industry. 


Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with a well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.

3 Steps to Identify and Eliminate Bias in the Workplace

Diversity encompasses a range of differences among people, some of which can be seen, such as race, gender or national origin, and others which cannot, such as sexual orientation, religion, or background. Bias occurs not because of the differences themselves, but because of an inability to embrace and celebrate the things that make us different or unique. When we actively seek to identify and eliminate bias in the workplace, we create an environment where everyone can thrive.

What causes bias in the first place? Often, bias is rooted in stereotypes. A stereotype is defined as a widely held, but fixed and over-simplified image of an idea of a particular type of person. Stereotypes are problematic because they are:

  • Quickly Formed – They are created with limited exposure and data.
  • Persistent – Stereotypes are resistant to change; even when presented with conflicting data, the idea doesn’t change, and the conflicting data is assumed to be an exception.
  • Easy to Justify – When we meet a person who behaves in a way that is consistent with the stereotype, this is seen as confirmation of the legitimacy of the stereotype.
  • Two-Sided Coins – We can find ourselves on either side; the believer of a stereotype or the “victim” of someone else’s belief of one.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecies – Some people, when labelled with a stereotype long enough, may begin to believe it to be true about themselves.

There are several factors which influence the creation and permanence of stereotypes, including:

  • Socialization – Our family and friends, the people we associate with and the people we are exposed to in our communities can influence our beliefs in stereotypes.
  • Media – Television, news, movies, and other forms of media create a strong influence on stereotypes. Different groups of people are portrayed in ways consistent with stereotypes in much of the different media mediums.
  • Experiences – Our own personal experiences can also shape stereotypes. When we’ve had limited exposure to a different group of people, we may form ideas about the entire group based on a few interactions.

Once stereotypes are formed and believed, prejudice can occur. Prejudice is when we have a negative impression of a person or group of people based on little to no data and instead rooted in stereotypes. There are five stages of escalation of prejudice:

  1. Bias
  2. Avoidance/Language
  3. Discrimination
  4. Violence
  5. Genocide

Biases are not only formed against something; we can also have biases in favor of something. Everyone has biases and not every bias is bad. However, when a bias is applied to people, it can create an unfair and inequitable situation, especially in the workplace. There are two types of biases: implicit and explicit. Implicit bias occurs without us consciously thinking about it while Explicit bias is one we are

aware of but may choose to actively conceal in the interest of social or political correctness. Our biases are influenced by all our experiences every day and the good news is that biases can be changed or eliminated! Four problems created by bias in the workplace are:

  1. Unchecked language and behaviors which can escalate to microaggressions.
  2. Missed opportunities to hire/promote the better candidate.
  3. Employee morale may suffer if sensing lack of organizational fit.
  4. Increased risk of legal action.

So what can we do to avoid these problems and help to eliminate bias in the workplace? We all must contribute to affect real change. Below are actions you can take to do your part:

1. Identify Your Biases. We need to become introspective, identify our own biases, and become thoughtful in how we behave and make decisions.

2. Question the Validity. Once you have identified your biases, work to evaluate them and educate yourself to debunk their validity.

3. Change Your Perceptions. Choose to adjust your perception and think it through. Your first thought impulse may not be correct; work to develop your ability to apply critical thinking.

Click here to access additional COVID-19 Multifamily Training Resources

Read more like this from Edge2Learn

Contributed by:

Kathy Vance
Property Management Content Strategist – Ellis Partners in Management Solutions, Edge2Learn

Kathy is an independent coach and consultant. Her career spans over 37 years in the apartment industry where she held roles onsite in leasing and management, as a regional manager with a portfolio of over 2300 apartment homes in 4 states, and in human resources supporting learning and development for over 1000 employees. Kathy has been a CAM instructor both in the classroom and online since 1999. She has a Bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Dayton and is a graduate of Accomplishment Coaching, an affiliate of the International Coach Federation. She currently works with Edge2Learn as the Content Curator – providing insights to make course content relevant to the industry. 


Edge2Learn is an eLearning company whose focus is the Property Management Industry and specializes in property management training and multifamily education. With over 30 years of experience and a commitment to increase industry excellence, we are passionate about engaging learners to maximize benefits for both companies and employees. Aligned with a well-respected industry leader, Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions, the Edge2Learn platform provides a turnkey solution for clearly identified needs and opportunities. We prepare learners to deliver a superior customer experience and also reduce corporate liability risks and overall employee turnover.

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