Fair Housing and Written Responses - The Fair Housing Institute, Inc.

Fair Housing and Written Responses

Does your property have policies in place for written responses? Why should you? What are some best practices? 

Fair Housing and Written Responses

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

When it comes to written responses, we need to be fair-housing focused. Every written response should be carefully created and follow a predetermined policy to avoid potential discrimination claims. This article will share potential pitfalls and best practices to help you and your staff tackle written responses.

Why are we talking about emails today?

Any time you discuss or talk about your property, it can be viewed as marketing. So responding to an email or even a social media request falls under the marketing purview. It’s important to identify this because some companies may become complacent with their email policy, leading to a fair housing issue.

Should property management professionals respond to prospect emails or social media requests in a certain order? 

The first and most crucial thing to address is to make sure that every email or social media request is actually responded to. Ignored or forgotten requests can lead to all kinds of trouble. Of course, a best practice is to respond to requests in the order they are received. Every company should have a system in place to monitor their different points of contact and respond in a timely manner.

What are some best practices when it comes to responding to prospect emails?

A word of warning: be especially careful when it comes to availability. This is the most common situation that can be easily misconstrued as discrimination. For example, two different prospects are interested in moving into the same property but receive two different responses when inquiring about availability. One is told that the unit they are interested in isn’t available but offered an alternative. The other is also told that the unit they are interested in isn’t available but offered no alternative. 

Neither is necessarily wrong. But having two different responses regarding availability can come across as discrimination. Every leasing agent needs to be on the same page and use the same responses or pitches.

Another area of concern is email signatures. These need to be kept professional and clear of anything that might offend, like religious quotes or symbols.

What should property management keep in mind when it comes to resident emails?

Remember that emails are an official form of communication. You are representing your company when you are talking to the resident or prospect. Usually, this is pretty easy to do, but what if the resident becomes hostile? Then what? You need to remain calm under all circumstances and maintain a professional tone. Do not email anything you wouldn’t want to be read in open court.

Would canned email responses be appropriate in any situation? If so, what should be kept in mind?

Canned responses can be helpful but need to be used carefully as they are not appropriate for every situation. For example, a canned response to a unique or emergent request can appear like you are brushing them off and should be responded to in a more detailed manner. 

Written responses and training

Along with following best practices to avoid fair housing pitfalls, remember to always bring the human element. Training and experience are needed to know where the lines are and how you can be both professional and a human. So double-check that your responses are on point and never stop training.


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