Different Property Management Markets – Unique Challenges for Fair Housing

With the many different property management markets, it is vital to understand how The Fair Housing Act and other state and federal laws apply. Targeted training is needed to tackle the unique fair housing challenges each will encounter.

A person on laptop with images representing different types of housing

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Property management has one of the highest employee turnover rates. People in the industry tend to move around throughout their careers and may not always find themselves in the same type of housing sector. As a result, thorough knowledge coupled with ongoing training is required if a company wants to ensure that they and their employees are fair housing compliant. In this article, we will briefly review several different types of housing and discuss how each presents different challenges when it comes to fair housing compliance.

Private or Market Rate Housing

Private or market-rate housing makes up the majority of apartments out there. The Fair Housing Act directly applies to this market, so the training should also be targeted.

Subsidized Market

Subsidized market housing is when the government provides funds to reduce the amount of rent a tenant pays. Because the federal government is involved, there are additional federal requirements on top of the federal and state fair housing requirements. For example, a private landlord is not required to cover the cost of a reasonable accommodation modification, but landlords in subsidized market housing are.

Low-Income Tax Credit Housing

Low-income tax credit housing mimics the fair housing compliance requirements of private market housing unless a state finance housing agency has added additional requirements, which many do.  One example would be again how a landlord handles a reasonable accommodation. 

In addition, if a fair housing claim is made against this type of housing provider, they may see a more severe outcome or result if the claim is upheld.

Senior Housing

Senior housing creates all kinds of very specific fair housing challenges. An example of this would be how a housing provider handles a resident that has become violent due to dementia. Considering this market’s unique challenges, we created a complete training module focusing on senior housing and how The Fair Housing Act applies.

Manufactured Homes

The manufactured home market is difficult because of the various ownership/rental relationships that exist. These can create confusion about how fair housing laws apply, leading some to believe that they do not apply to them when they actually do. As a result, this misunderstanding has resulted in numerous claims and violations.

Supportive Housing

Supportive housing was created to address the needs of people who require additional assistance and housing. A few examples of this would be people with disabilities or women escaping domestic violence. Each one has its own unique fair housing challenges that require specific training and understanding of how the laws apply.

Public Housing

Public housing not only has specific government requirements because it is federally subsidized, but it also has additional requirements created by HUD that do not exist for private landlords.

Student Housing

Student housing is a growing profitable industry that employs many people. Yet it again presents different hurdles from other housing types like dorm-style or roommate living situations. Many fair housing questions arise for property managers and owners as to what their fair housing responsibilities are because the laws apply differently. Again why we created a specific training module that zero’s in on this type of housing.

Different Property Management Markets – How To Tackle Their Unique Fair Housing Challenges

Throughout this article, we have shown the variety of housing markets and how each one can face very different fair housing challenges. Without adequate training, staff can quickly find themselves making mistakes that can lead to fair housing violations. Training needs to include a variety of techniques. Role-playing, scenarios, and regular practice session coupled with regular industry-specific courses will give staff the knowledge and skills they need to stay compliant. We are here to help you navigate the different types of training needed and share complimentary fair housing education on a regular basis. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you never miss out on an episode.

Jonathan (00:13): Hello, everyone. Welcome to the 'Fair Housing Insiders' episode 42, we are looking forward to having an amazing discussion about all the different types of property management markets that are out there, all the genres, and what's unique to each of them. So we would like to welcome back to our show as always Kathi Williams. Kathi, how are you doing today?

Kathi (00:32): I'm doing great, Jonathan. And you know, this is a topic that we don't talk very much about, but I think it's important because as we all know, the employees in that housing industry tend to move around a lot. So you can learn fair housing for the, you know, the property you're working for. But if you move markets to work for your next property, there might be some unique challenges there.

Jonathan (01:02): Absolutely. Yeah. So this is a very timely episode, as we know, there's just so much to learn and so many unique things to each of those housing markets. So can you give us kind of a summary, Kathi? Like what are the different markets that are out there? What are some that you've worked with?

Kathi (01:17): Sure. Well, we begin with kind of the broad over view of what we call private or market rate housing. And that is probably the majority of apartments that are out there. And the Fair Housing Act applies to that entire market in pretty direct ways. So the training you get is usually focused on that market. Well, then we change markets a little bit and we go into what we might call the subsidized market, meaning that the federal government provides funds to reduce the amount of rent that a resident pays and because the federal government is involved, there are all kinds of additional federal requirements on top of the federal and state Fair Housing Act requirements. For instance a landlord doesn't have to pay the cost of reasonable modifications in private market housing, but landlords do have to pay the cost for modifications if necessary because of a disability in subsidized apartment.

Kathi (02:38): So that's just one very important difference. Another type of housing is what we call low income tax credit housing. Now that housing usually takes on the fair housing features of private market housing, except if the state housing finance agency has added some requirements and many do that might affect how a landlord handles a reasonable accommodation, for instance. And also if there's a reality that low income tax credit housing might face a very, and even more serious result of a finding of a fair housing violation. So that's a difference that has to be taken into consideration whenever those landlords are litigating a fair housing case.

Jonathan (03:43): Right, right.

Kathi (03:44): Another market, I'll just continue with a couple more, is senior housing. And that has all kinds of very challenging fair housing consequences. And that's why the Fair Housing Institute has done an entire training module on senior housing because of all the unique, fair housing challenges based by those housing providers.

Kathi (04:14): A couple more housing markets that I can think of is the manufactured home markets. And that carries some difficulties because of the fact that, of the various ownership and rental relationships that go on in that kind of housing that can confuse people sometimes so that they think they're not covered by the Fair Housing Act or various parts like reasonable accommodation when in reality they are. And there's been a lot of violations because of that misunderstanding, right. And finally kind of a very rare, unique, but important type of housing is what I would call supportive housing. And that is housing that was created to meet the, not just the housing needs, but other needs of people with disabilities, or for instance, women who are the victims of domestic violence housing that puts together not just the bricks and mortar of housing, but also supportive services. And again, because of that combination, sometimes unique, fair housing questions can arise. So I know that's a lot, but I basically covered, I think, what are the, the main property manage markets out there.

Jonathan (05:45): Right. Well, let's just recap. 'em, Let's recap. 'em for our audience here. So I had down on my list and we covered senior housing government subsidized. It's a big list, low income tax credit housing, public housing. Right. We covered that one. Yeah.

Kathi (06:04): You know what? I forgot to even mention that.

Jonathan (06:06): That's right. Public housing. Okay. Let's talk about public housing though. I'll keep going down the list. So what's, what's unique about public housing?

Kathi (06:12): Public housing is kind of its own type of housing. So it has government requirements because it is federally subsidized. And then it also has additional requirements made by HUD on public housing agencies that don't necessarily exist for private landlords. So people that work in that area have to know about all of those requirements.

Jonathan (06:39): Okay. All right. Good. So senior housing, government subsidized, single family, low income tax credit, public housing, supportive housing, manufactured housing. And did we talk about student housing?

Kathi (06:52): You know what we didn't thank you for reminding me on my list. Student housing has gotten to be a huge industry. Yeah. Employs lots of people, is very profitable for most of the investors who own those properties. But because in student housing, you're often putting people together in a roommate, a lot of fair housing questions arise for the owner and management of that property and what responsibility do they have for the discrimination that might occur on the roommate roommate to roommate basis. So their, again, because of that, we have created an entire course for student housing providers because of all those differences.

Jonathan (07:48): Right. Right. Very good. Yeah. There's a lot there. And it's just amazing, like you mentioned the beginning, even with the basics, the fundamentals of fair housing, there's so many unique nuances and in talking to different people who have been in the industry for a long time, they share that they shared it with you. I've heard that same experience. So now for our audience, it leads us to a really important question. You know, why is it so important to understand the unique, like nuances, differences, challenges that occur at each of these different types of housing sectors? What would your thought be on that, Kathi?

Kathi (08:34): I think it is important to take into consideration why that housing market is different than others and how, because of those differences, fair housing challenges may pop up in a different form than in a different market. And if you don't train your employees to be aware and sensitive of those areas, they can blunder right through them. And in doing so violate fair housing requirements, cause they just didn't see it coming at them because of the type of housing that is presented. So for, let me just give you an example in senior housing, everyone, I think knows that you have to provide reasonable accommodations for residents with disabilities. The unique aspect of senior housing is almost all residents are going to be able to show if they need to, that they have a disability and thinking about how to reasonably accommodate for instance residents who might have Alzheimer's or you know, memory impairment, what are the unique requirements to provide a reasonable accommodation to a resident with that kind of mental disability is both challenging, but absolutely necessary.

Jonathan (10:11): Very good. That's awesome. And so would you say Kathi, you know, I was thinking of property management companies that have mixed portfolios. You know, there's some that they are very specific with the type of housing market that they have in their portfolio, but there are many out there that have a great mixture of them. And often we talk about on this show besides doing online training is make sure you have fair housing training in person like doing role playing, doing some team exercises and so on. So would you agree that like, even on that level to your point specifically that if you're a fair housing trainer in house, working with your team to make sure that they see the application for that housing market, as part of their fair housing exercises or training, is that accurate?

Kathi (11:01): Jonathan, that is a terrific point. That's where those unique challenges should be addressed because let's face it. If you're getting just basic fair housing training that you're giving to all your employees that is normal, not going to address those unique challenges. So you better take the opportunity through role playing through examples, through scenarios to apply fair housing to your residents and the unique, fair housing challenges that might be presented.

Jonathan (11:38): Okay. Very good. Yeah. Thank you for, thank you for that statement. So for our audience super, super important, don't just have a cookie cutter approach, but make sure that your team understands what they're gonna be faced with if they are managing, you know, multiple different types of properties. So excellent conversation for today's episode, you know, it's also one of the things that as the Fair Housing Institute, we're very proud to bring to our community. Not only shows like this, that really highlight all the different genres of housing markets that are out there. You can search them on YouTube and search for them on our website, but also within our course catalog too, are 'Beyond the Basics'. We already have the student housing course, as you mentioned, Kathi, as well as our senior course and more coming. One thing we wanna highlight to our audience too, is the importance of signing up for our newsletter.

Jonathan (12:27): There are so many ways that you can get involved. We would like your feedback. We want your questions. There are other things that are only available through our newsletter, that if you sign up for, you'll be able to have access to. So if you haven't done it already, make sure you go to our website. There's a special page for our newsletter. The link will be in the show notes also so that you can be part of that community and always be notified about new things that we're putting out for our fair housing community. So we appreciate your support in that way. So that leads us to one of our favorite segments of our show is we are rolling out here in 2022. And it's the Fair Housing Fast Five. It's our Fair Housing Fast Five where we put Kathi on the spot, see if she can answer five questions in 60 seconds or less. And we know how hard that is because we're talking about fair housing and these aren't just simple yes, no questions. Although sometimes they could be. But we know we've talked about some of this up during the show, so Kathi, are you ready?

Kathi (13:38): Okay, Jonathan, I'm gonna take a big breath and be ready to answer your questions.

Jonathan (13:43): All right. Let me get my stopwatch ready. Okay. Does the Fair Housing Act apply differently based on the type of housing involve an alleged violation?

Kathi (13:55): No, it doesn't. It's still the same Fair Housing Act/

Jonathan (13:59): Very good. Can a landlord evict a resident in senior housing if the resident has dementia?

Kathi (14:07): Not because of the dementia, it would have to be because of the behavior that might result from the dementia violating the lease.

Jonathan (14:18): In student housing, can a resident refuse to live with a roommate due to the roommate's race?

Kathi (14:24): The answer to that is no.

Jonathan (14:27): Is it true that one of the biggest differences between private market and subsidized housing is that the landlord must pay for reasonable modifications?

Kathi (14:35): The answer to that is yes, that is one of the big differences.

Jonathan (14:39): In a single family housing or manufactured housing, since the individual house is involved instead of an apartment, can the landlord refuse to permit modifications as a reasonable accommodation?

Kathi (14:52): And the answer is no, all landlords have to permit reasonable modifications.

Jonathan (14:58): So close again, Kathi. So close again. You know what's amazing? I think the questions are actually longer than the answers.

Kathi (15:05): Yeah, I think they are too.

Jonathan (15:06): Yeah, that's really, really good. But looks like about 70 seconds or so. So just for a minute so no grand prize again for you today.

Kathi (15:16): I'll keep working on it.

Jonathan (15:18): Oh, but that's a lot of fun, great way for our audience to be able to get a nice recap on what we've talked about today. This has been episode 42. We thank you for joining our community and we look forward to seeing you on our next episode. Take care, everyone.

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