Fair Housing and Superior Customer Service - The Fair Housing Institute, Inc.

Fair Housing and Superior Customer Service

Do customer service and fair housing go hand in hand? Can you have one without the other? This episode shows how superior customer service is the key to fewer fair housing complaints.

Woman using a happy face rating scale to and selecting

It stands to reason that any company with good customer service training will have fewer fair housing complaints. Customers that feel honestly heard primarily during upsetting circumstances are less likely to feel discriminated against or file a grievance. So how can you ensure that your customers/residents are receiving superior customer service?

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Superior Customer Service – How?

Many things can contribute to superior customer service, which leads to fair housing compliance. We will focus on three main areas:

  • Good Communication
  • Respect
  • Understanding and upholding company policy

Good Communication

Good communication starts with listening. Specifically, active listening. When you are actively listening to a customer, you are not already thinking of your response. You are focused on what they are saying, which helps them feel understood. Customers get very upset when they feel they are not being heard or listened to. This can lead to a belief that they are being discriminated against and open the door for a fair housing complaint.


There is a saying that respect is a two-way street. We naturally want to be treated with the same dignity and respect we show our customers. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case with our customers. During these challenging situations, we need to remember that it is our job to remain composed and continue treating the customer with respect regardless of how they treat us.

Company Policies

Being well-versed in your companies policies can go a long way to diffusing certain situations. Not being knowledgeable can lead to confusion which will exacerbate a probably already tense situation. Ensuring that every staff member is on the same page and residents will receive the same consistent answer will aid in superior customer service and help avoid a fair housing complaint.

How to De-escalate an Angry Tenant

We have all been there. You pick up the phone only to hear an irate tenant screaming on the other end that they have been waiting for over three weeks for an appliance to be repaired. What is the best way to handle a situation like this? Listen, truly listen! Acknowledge the problem and, if possible, find a point to empathize with. Next, calmly explain why there has been a delay and what is being done to remedy the situation. That being said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Had the tenant had regular updates, the whole situation could have been avoided.

How to Explain a Decision Regarding a Request

One of the most common requests we get is to waive the fee when a lease is broken early. Once again, be sure to listen to the tenant. Allow them to tell you the reason for the request. This is incredibly important because the reason will determine how you respond.

For instance, a tenant needs to break a lease early because they have accepted a position out of state. Unfortunately, the policy clearly states that nothing can be done. You can congratulate the tenant on the new job and kindly remind them of what the policy states.

There are other reasons why a tenant would need to break a lease; this is why active listening is so essential. Perhaps a tenant has experienced a life event that has left them disabled, and their home is no longer accessible to them. This would require an entirely different response. This would now fall under a reasonable accommodation request. If you do not have an accessible unit to offer, management and possibly legal counsel would need to be involved in handling this request.  

We face so many different situations every day. That is why fair housing and customer service training is so necessary. So in answer to the questions posed above: yes, superior customer service and fair housing can co-exist. When it comes to property management, one can’t exist without the other.

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