Fair Housing training for maintenance professionals is a compliance prerequisite. Housing providers sometimes overlook this need. Often they are the first team members who arrive after a maintenance call comes in. They interact with residents on a regular basis. Kindness and courtesy can often be misinterpreted. We want kindness and courtesy to always be maintained. Scenario-based Fair Housing training goes a long way to create a good balance.
Socializing with residents outside work is a no-no. When an employee spends a substantial amount of time, it can come off as favoritism. Or what about the possibility of allegations, such as sexual harassment? It is a general rule to just stray away from socializing outside work manners to keep from issues arising.
Side jobs, possibly helping move some things, isn’t always off-limits. However, it should be done somewhere other than the property in which an employee works. Problems may arise if one was to help after work hours. For example, if a resident offered to pay an employee to help them move some things; things could take a turn for the worse quickly. Maybe something goes missing, the employee is injured, or something is broken. Is the company going to be able to support the employee with those issues? It would be hard to do so since there was no reason related to work for them to be there. The best thing to do is to turn down the job offer in a polite manner.
Illegal steering can be encouraging or discouraging someone from possibly moving into the property, a certain area, or even a specific unit. It could be as simple as answering a question pertaining to the kind of people living within the property. The best thing to do is to send anyone with questions to the leasing office.
Requesting Preferred Parking
Requesting for preferred parking spaces is something done in the leasing office since it could be a reasonable accommodation. It could become a violation if answered without keeping the Fair Housing Act in mind. This is why there should be some training for employees so they don’t discourage a resident nor give out confidential information pertaining to another resident who may already have this accommodation.
Closely following the guidelines for side jobs, doing favors for a resident is something the employee should politely turn down. Unfortunately, it can be seen as favoritism, or possibly something can occur while helping the resident. This can include getting injured or even breaking an item in the process. It isn’t a part of the job description and should therefore not be done.
A resident asks a maintenance employee to perform several modifications to his apartment that the resident says are needed because of the resident’s disability. The maintenance employee tells the resident he’s done similar work for another resident, and instructs the resident to put in a work request, but is told by the office staff that the resident will need to have the work done by a contractor and will be expected to pay for the work. The resident is angry because he thinks he’s being treated differently than the resident who had the work done by the maintenance employee. How does Fair Housing training for maintenance professionals come into play here? Training regarding reasonable modifications, the American with Disabilities Act, and communications skills would definitely help your maintenance professional be ready for these types of situations.
Many housing providers send their leasing agents and managers to fair housing training because it’s good business to do so. We like to remind our readers it’s also a good business practice to train your maintenance employees on the types of fair housing issues that may arise. Here are examples of the kinds of fair housing cases that involve maintenance employees
An employee doesn’t like a particular resident, and so avoids doing work in her apartment. Later the employee files a fair housing complaint against the apartment community. Among the allegations she makes in the complaint is that her maintenance requests are often responded to later than other people because of her race. In this instance, Fair Housing training for maintenance would entail much more than just knowing that race is a protected class.
A maintenance employee who is “too friendly” offends a female resident. He appears to go out of his way to be around her building in the afternoons. He also makes comments about her appearance and suggests that they go out for a drink sometime. Although the maintenance employee’s actions may not be illegal, they are not good business. The resident could add these allegations of sexual harassment to complicate a fair housing complaint about other issues. The burden of proof is irrelevant. The allegation takes away time and resources from your team. Fair Housing training for maintenance professionals should absolutely cover scenarios that include potential sexual harassment allegations.
Fair Housing Training For Maintenance – The Bottom Line
Each of these situations can be defended and is probably not going to be found to be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. However, each of these situations could have been handled better, possibly avoiding the resulting fair housing case. Fair Housing training for maintenance staff should also cover the importance of fair, equal, and professional treatment by employees. Although the maintenance employees don’t need the detailed information concerning the fair housing issues involved with processing applications and making selection decisions, they do need to understand how their actions can result in a fair housing problem. The bottom line… Fair Housing training for maintenance professionals is paramount.
Learn more about our online Fair Housing training for Maintenance Professionals
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