Episode 20 of Fair Housing Insiders
Communication is key. By not effectively communicating your company’s fair housing policies to your employees you leave yourself exposed and vulnerable to a fair housing complaint. Let’s take a look at some great insights on best practices.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Table of contents
Highlights of Episode 20 – Fair Housing and Communication – Pt 1 – Communicating with Employees
Internal Communication Regarding Maintenance Work
Best practices dictate that maintenance work is completed in the order the request was received, except for emergencies. By doing this, you can avoid being accused of discrimination or favoritism. But what constitutes an emergency can vary from property to property.
In our first scenario, we see this exact situation arise. A new employee immediately sends out a maintenance professional to repair a dishwasher. Why? At his last place of employment that was considered an emergency. Unfortunately, this is not the case at his current job. His lack of knowledge and training has just opened the door to a fair housing complaint.
Policies and procedures need to be effectively communicated to all employees, especially new ones. Documentation also needs to be provided as a point of reference. This is not a one-time thing. Ongoing conversations along with supervision will ensure staff is following proper fair housing procedures.
Internal Communication Regarding Callbacks
Callbacks are an important part of every property management’s daily business responsibilities. Whether it’s responding to current resident requests or potential resident inquiries. Like maintenance requests, callbacks should be handled in the order they were received.
This becomes difficult when you have multiple contact points: phone, email, text, and even social media. Is your staff aware of all the points of contact your company utilizes? Do you have a callback list that logs when the message was received? How can this situation turn into a fair housing violation?
At any time, your policies and procedures can be put to the test. If your staff is not aware of all lists and begins making callbacks out of order, you are now again open to a complaint of discrimination. Proper communication and training would have avoided this.
Fair Housing Training
When it comes to communicating effectively, you need to go at it from all angles. We have already discussed the importance of training. But this can be more than just a lecture. Role-playing is an excellent way for your staff to practice scenarios and ensure they are well versed in your company’s policies and procedures.
Along with training, you need documentation. Does your staff have the knowledge, access, and training when it comes to documenting? Documenting is not only a great form of internal communication, it can also help you handle complaints if they arise.
Of course, along with training and documentation, supervision is pivotal. Adequate supervision focuses on helping your staff achieve compliance. Ensuring that your team feels that they can ask questions will encourage a learning environment and hopefully get ahead of any potential problems.
There is technology available to assist companies with communication and workflow. Larger companies typically rely on CRMs which are great at automating work orders and callbacks to ensure they are handled in order. If that is not in your budget there are still great options like Slack and Microsoft Teams that can help your team stay in touch and organized.
Having an environment that encourages open and active communication will provide the best results. Staff should never feel that they can’t come forward with a question or concern. Management can use these opportunities as teachable moments to ensure everyone is on the same page. Utilize both email and staff meetings to share current situations that might have arisen and the proper resolution.
Internal Communication Takeaway
Communication is an integral part of properly executing fair housing procedures. By effectively communicating these procedures to your staff, you give them the skills they need to succeed.
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