Are You Cheating Yourself Out of a Fair Housing Education?

We may not think that cheating is a “thing” when it comes to fair housing education. But it does exist both in obvious and ambiguous ways. Either way, people looking for the easy way out are not doing themselves any favors and are cheating themselves out of a proper fair housing education which can only lead to problems.

In this article, we will discuss the different ways and methods that we have seen that both individuals and even entire companies have used to try and game the system. By highlighting these dangerous practices, we hope to raise awareness to encourage everyone to truly invest in their education and careers.

Students cheating on a test

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

What kind of cheating are we referring to?

There are two basic ways of cheating: the most obvious is sharing test answers. The other is a bit more insidious. We understand that training is not always welcome but looking for the quickest or easiest way to get it done is definitely not a best practice. You are, in fact, cheating yourself out of quality education. Watching a quick video or taking a short 15-minute course with no follow-up test may check a box, but are you actually gaining a thorough understanding?

What methods have some trainees used to cheat?

One common method trainees use to cheat we already discussed is sharing test answers. Clearly, this is not helpful to anyone. In addition, we also see trainees have someone else take the course for them. It can be very tempting to believe that you just don’t have time with all your other responsibilities, but you are leaving yourself in a highly vulnerable position. Not having a thorough working knowledge of fair housing laws and their implications can expose you and your company to potential violations and costly fines.

What methods have some property management company employees in charge of providing training used to game the system?

Again, here we see a trend of managers trying to get by with the absolute minimum. They may feel that their staff doesn’t have the time or perhaps that initial training is all that is needed. Some have even resorted to creating fake certificates. Once an investigation is launched—and it will be— your training practices will be put under a microscope. You are only hurting yourself and your company. It is so much easier to just do your training the right way from the get-go.

Signs that it’s time to evaluate your training program

You just heard your employee confirm a prospect’s question if there were many from their religion living on the property. You look into their file and find that they just completed fair housing training. How could they make such a basic mistake so soon after training? When you chat with them, you quickly realize that they barely remember anything from their training.

This situation happens quite often. It may be the training materials were not thorough or robust enough, or perhaps the method of training did not connect with the employee. Another area of concern would be that the training provided didn’t give you any feedback as to how the employee did, for example, a test score. All of these are indicating factors that you may need to reevaluate your fair housing training.

Overall most companies are invested in providing properly-curated content that is up-to-date to ensure that their employees have the knowledge and skills they need. However, if you find that there are gaps in your training process, we encourage you to tackle them quickly.

Jonathan (00:12): Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Fair Housing Insiders episode 53. I'm your host, Jonathan Saar. And joining me today is Michael Coughlin. Michael, how you doing today? My friend.

Michael (00:23): Great. Jonathan, always glad to be here.

Jonathan (00:25): Yeah. Exciting topic today. Can't wait to dive in and get your comments and thoughts on it in just a minute. Couple of housekeeping items, please. If you haven't done so already subscribe to our newsletter, a lot of opportunities, a lot of bonus content that comes from our newsletter, including a quarterly contest for those who submit their questions to our YouTube videos and make sure you follow us on our Instagram channel at Fair Housing Institute. So today we are focused on cheating, fair housing, cheating. So you wanna take us take us into that for a minute. Michael, what kind of cheating are we referring to? Like why are we talking about this?

Michael (01:11): I know it sounds like a very scandalous topic, doesn't it? We're talking about cheating kind of in two different ways here. One is more common and when I say cheating, I mean kind of, not really going the distance in terms of fair housing training, and that's just the most check the box training that you could possibly have, like maybe the higher ups just send out like, Hey, here's a fair housing video. Can you just guys watch this when you have some time? Or maybe it is, you know, they say like, oh, just, you know, run through this course real quick, you know, it's gonna take you 15 minutes and like, there's no, there's no test. There's no nothing. Like, it's just like just watch 15 minutes and that kind of thing. And and it, we will kind of get into a little bit more, but like, obviously there, there's just a lot of problems there with, and people paying attention, absorbing the material, retaining it, you know, essentially they could have just, you know, spent 15, 30 minutes just doing nothing on their phone, not paying attention.

And they're just not really getting an actual education. It's just a waste of time and possibly money if you spend something on it. The other type is quite literally cheating. You know, people you know kind of sharing answers on tests that sounds kind of crazy. You know, you wouldn't think of that in terms of like, you know occupational training. That sounds like something that you hear about in high school and college, but it does happen including in fair housing training. So that's the kind of cheating that we're talking about today. That's that's really is a threat to you know, to housing providers and individuals in their own careers.

Jonathan (02:49): Yeah, yeah, yeah. You touched on, on a couple of couple of methods that are there and, you knowwe use question banks in, in the courses for the Fair Housing Institute. So that, that helps. I mean, is there anything other things that you've seen, like, what are some other things that you've witnessed where trainees, are looking to game the system, they're trying to cheat their way out of taking that fair housing class or that quiz, any other common items pop up on your radar?

Michael (03:24): I mean the one that actually started my, the fact that I actually even noticed anything was the, you know, the most classical sharing of answers cheating way back in the day when we kind of started under that what, or was called the Fair Housing Institute online we had a little bit more of a simple course and we had an exam and it was a pretty thorough exam, but it was the same questions in the same order every time. So eventually for some larger companies, when employees didn't really wanna pay attention, you know, they'd get one person to actually pay attention and take the exam and figure out, you know, the right answers. And then they would just share 'em. And so the company, you know, everybody was passing the exams with the exact same grades, and like we found out we had to make some changes early on, and that's why today we have, you know, we have a big bank of questions that change out every time somebody takes it and all the question orders randomized to make sure that people can't gain the system, as ridiculous as that sounds, you know, it doesn't sound like you would, you put in a lot of effort to avoid something that doesn't take that much effort.

but probably the other ones I've had is like people taking the training for them and believe it or not, one of the most common forms of that is is managers or higher ups taking the training for their, you know, their employees they're leasing or, you know, maintenance employees just cause they don't wanna take 'em off of, you know, off of the desk or offsite or, you know, they don't want to interrupt their day in any way. So, and they're worried that they'll fail. So they do it for 'em and they don't realize how much they're hurting themselves and their employee.

Jonathan (04:55): Right, right. Very good. Yeah. And we know this episode is, is we're coming to a point community, because this isn't just about reporting what we're seeing, but we're, we're definitely gonna be talking about the dangers that are inherent with it and you know, some things you need to think about. So let's just take it one more level, Michael. Now we know a lot of property management companies use some sort of a system to manage their learning records, whether it's a learning management system or some other software to keep track of employee certifications what have you seen in some cases where property management companies, their, their training department is they're doing to kind of game that the, the actual record keeping any comments on that?

Michael (05:47): Yeah. that would probably be you do occasionally see some, you know, like fake training certificates that actually does come up occasionally. You know, cause people think, oh, if they just have their certificate, then that's all they'll need. And it's like, well, that's, that's ridiculous. Like you're, they're gonna commit a fair housing violation. And if you keep committing them, the fact that you have certificates, you know, that doesn't look that great. Right. but I'd say the most common one and you know, again, this is not the literal form of cheating, but it is very real is the, just under training on purpose in order to check that box. I can't tell you how many people contact me and they ask for recommendations on training or you know, that, that they want to know what will work for them.

And I'll try to figure out their situation and I'll tell 'em what'll work for them. Like that's longer than I want. Or I want, they want the shortest possible training available the least amount of effort available that, you know, that kind of thing. Right. It's like, I understand people are busy and this isn't everybody's most exciting topic, even though it's very exciting for me just personally. But this isn't anything you would want out of any professional would you want to take your car to a mechanic where they had, oh, it's like, oh, he took the least amount of training available in order to get this job, you know, would you want to go to see a doctor like that? You know, and maybe the you know, the threshold isn't that as high for a leasing agent management or maintenance, but you would wanna live on a property where people had the proper training and likewise you would want to work with other people that had the proper length of training. So, you know, don't, don't shortchange yourself, don't shortchange your company. Don't shortchange your employees put in the time putting an investment, cause honestly you're just cheating yourself. Otherwise.

Jonathan (07:38): Absolutely. I mean, there's so many fair housing cases that are out there that demonstrate what happens when there's a violation. And inevitably part of that settlement is always fair housing training.

Michael (07:51): You're gonna do it one way or the other it's gonna happen.

Jonathan (07:54): It's gonna happen. And to try and you know, cheat your way through that. There's so many other industry examples that are out there, so yeah. Good points, Michael. Very, very good. All right. So let's look at a scenario because I love these scenarios. They always just kind of really reinforce the point. So let's just take a look at this and now we'll get kind of a visual on what could be happening actually be happening on, on your property right now. So let's take a look.

Leasing Agent (08:28): So Taylor, I'm not quite understanding what happened here. There is a recording of you telling a lady that there are lots of Jewish people in the community. Do you not understand how wrong that is?

Taylor (08:44): Well, I'm not sure what I did wrong. The lady said she was Jewish and wanted to know if there were other Jewish people who lived here. I was just trying to be nice.

Leasing Agent (08:53): I see that you completed your, your fair housing training just two weeks before this phone call. So what did you learn about protected classes and what to say when asked questions like that

Taylor (09:05): Protected classes?

Leasing Agent (09:08): Yeah, you know, like race, color, religion. Do you know the rest, there are seven of them

Taylor (09:17): Age poor people. Like, you know, you can't turn people away just because they don't have a lot of money.

Jonathan (09:28): So what'd you think of that scenario, Michael?

Michael (09:31): I share in Morgan's frustration it sounds like, you know, it said Taylor completed fair housing training. You know, obviously I don't in this scenario, the hypothetical scenario, I don't know what that looks like, but I can tell you that the training probably was not that thorough. I can tell you that there probably was not a robust test at the end of that training to make sure that the person had absorbed the material and actually understood. It sounds like it was just one of those, you know, they watched a video or something like that. And who knows if they were paying attention, you know, especially if nobody's there and you're doing it over the computer. So, but at the same time while Sharon Morgan's frustration, it's a little bit Morgan's responsibility. If she's a supervisor to make sure, you know, I know that sometimes managers don't have a say, if they're a larger company as to what training they get, but you should be sending some messages up the pipeline and say, this is not adequate. And I know that can be tough to do again in a big company, you know, you don't wanna really make some waves and you don't wanna turn heads, but you do need to speak up. If you feel like the training is not adequate, your employees aren't absorbing it. They're not using it properly. Cuz in the end you're just going to create so much more work for yourself. So so you know, don't be afraid to speak up if you need to.

Jonathan (10:45): Yeah. Yeah. Very, very good. I love that. And, and I think too, it, it, it's nice to share with our community that with this episode, it's, it's a very small percentage that are trying to game the system overall. I think you would agree. Definitely agree, Michael, like people, they see the necessity it's really important to them. They wanna make sure their name is on that certificate and they are very, very particular about their scores too. And they wanna make sure that their scores are recording correctly. So you know, overall.

Michael (11:22): Oh yeah. Actually if, if you're a person that's watching this video, I'm gonna go ahead and bet that you're not trying to gain the system. You're going the extra mile, but you may work with people do that. Do you may work for people that do? So that that's who we're really trying to point out here today is, is to look around your office and make sure that everybody's on top of it. Cause again, even if you're not involved, even if you're not the one who made the mistake, it could create a lot of extra work for you.

Jonathan (11:49): Right. Right. Exactly. Yeah. Excellent, excellent point. So, okay. Wow. That was a, a good topic. So now we get into our fair housing, fast five and Michael, you still hold the, the record of the only person on this show. Who's been able to get it and under, under one minute, so we'll, we'll see how you do today. And you know, if you do, it's you know, one, one quintillion monopoly dollars.

Michael (12:27): Monopoly dollars. Yeah.

Jonathan (12:29): You know, those are always valuable Saturday night with a family.

Michael (12:32): You know, it's a game I love to hate growing up.

Jonathan (12:34): Yeah, exactly. Man, you need those extra bonus. They're like, where'd you get all that money from speaking of cheating, don't cheat on monopoly. Of course not of course not. Okay. All right. So I'm gonna hit the timer and we're gonna hit our questions. Let's see if you can get them under one minute. So what are the issues with just asking that your employees watch some fair housing videos.

Michael (12:57): There's no supervision or follow up to their knowledge. They could not be retaining it. They might not understand it. They may not even be paying attention. They could be on their phone while the video is playing. So it, it might end up being useless.

Jonathan (13:09): Why should companies be so concerned about cheating or ignoring training?

Michael (13:15): Because it's just going to lead to a fair housing violation. I can't tell you how much you're just wasting time and resources. If you're trying to get around, actually give people training, get them trained, avoid the violations. You're gonna save so much money and time in the long run.

Jonathan (13:32): Yeah. What could the consequences be if employees were cheating on their training?

Michael (13:39): If you were found to have a lot of, obviously you're gonna have a higher instance of fair housing violations. If people are cheating the training, cause they don't understand it. But going beyond that if an investigation is done, it found out that your training is subpar, that people are you know, cheating on it that is just gonna make whatever is going on in the investigation. Now looks much worse. And I, I don't have to remind people out there that investigations can cost tens of tens of tens of thousands of dollars and take years and attorney's fees and time it, it is exhausting. So don't, don't cheat yourself.

Jonathan (14:14): How do I keep my employees from from treating or excuse me, or excuse me, how do I keep my employees from ignoring their training?

Michael (14:24): I think one of the ways to do it is have a lot of follow up. Obviously things in the training like exams can really can really help, but you know, do role playing, you know, every, every now and again, you know, talk to do some in person exercises when you have some time, because you're gonna notice real quick, the people that don't know what they're talking about and you can actually, you know, take those people aside and say, Hey, listen, I think you need some follow up training. You can identify the problem before it becomes a problem. So don't be scared to reach out and kind of test the waters, do those exercises. They're great for team building as well.

Jonathan (14:58): Very good. And how can higher ups create a positive training environment at my company?

Michael (15:04): I think again, try to try to like empathize with your employees and let them know that I'm forced training is not everybody's favorite activity, but consider it an investment in their career and in your company, you know, try to really put as much of a positive spin as you can on it. And try to try to have different kinds of trainings. Don't have the same check the box, watch this video every two years use different training methods. Use webinars use live training. If you can we talk, we just talked about role playing exercises, mix it all up, keep it as dynamic and fresh as you can and make sure you're getting your trading from a great source.

Jonathan (15:41): So you didn't win but excellent answers. Very, very good. Yeah, that was almost three minutes. Believe it or not three minutes, three minutes.

Michael (15:53): You get me talking about fair housing training, Jonathan, I get all work done. That's-

Jonathan (15:57): What happens? I hear you. I hear you. Yeah. It's, it's tough to keep them, you know, keep them concise. There's rarely a yes or a no answer to any of these questions, but I tell you, you know, good points, you know, and I think even in one of these questions the way you demonstrate how leadership gets involved and, you know, especially with how learning management systems work these days, there's, there's even opportunities for you to find out like which questions, maybe there's some consistency on certain aspects of fair housing that your team isn't really grasping and, and, you know, you have the opportunity to provide, like you mentioned, nice follow up training and reinforcing and so on.

Michael (16:44): Absolutely.

Jonathan (16:46): Excellent, excellent episode, timely, good reminders. Thank you to our community. Thank you for being on our show. We know you appreciate it. We appreciate your support by sharing this by giving us those thumbs up, connecting with us on our newsletter on our Instagram account and remembered, submit your questions to this YouTube episode. If you have any, we'll consider it for future episode as well. So until next time, thank you everyone for tuning into our show. Take care!

Michael (17:18): Happy training.

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