The Fair Housing Institute
Fair Housing Training
Do you need a Fair Housing training program? Are you an owner, manager, HR director, or training director in property management? If so, in our answers to the questions below, we share our recommendations for successful fair housing training programs and policies to protect your business, your employees, and your bottom line. We are happy to work with you and your team to help customize and build a fair housing training program your company can implement and grow over the coming years.
Frequently Asked Questions.
There are currently no federal requirements for fair housing training. It might actually be more helpful if there were. Because while a lack of training isn’t illegal, if your company is investigated for a fair housing violation, your training policies can be reviewed and may reflect poorly on your commitment to comply with fair housing.
So fair housing training isn’t just a good compliance practice, it is a good business decision. We currently use industry minimum standards and best practices as the basis of our training recommendations. Right now, the industry minimum is that all staff that regularly interact with prospects, residents, guests, etc., receive around 2-4 hrs. of fair housing training, such as our Basics of Fair Housing Certification Course, within 30 days of employment.Moving forward, those employees should receive similar length of training every two years, with a briefer (1-2 hours) reminder training during the in-between years. Maintenance employees, housekeeping, landscaping, contractors, etc., should be fine receiving around 1 hr. of training but should train on a similar schedule as the rest of your employees.
As the number of complaints and the cost of fair housing investigations continues to rise every year, many companies are moving to annual training, and this is quickly shifting the industry standard. We encourage companies to consider different training strategies to keep the training experience fresh for employees.
For example, an employee that took a 3-hour training course their first year could take a shorter 1 hour review course the second year, such as our Fair Housing in a Flash Course, to refresh their memory and remind them of the importance of the topic.
The third year the employee should take the longer (2-4 hour) training option again. The shorter programs (1-2 hours) may also be appropriate for off site staff that don’t influence company policy or regularly interact with residents but would still benefit from a basic understanding of the law and best practices.
To keep training fresh, it’s recommended that a variety of training formats be used. Online training courses are a great way to make sure that all of your employees are on the same page and have, at the very least, a basic understanding of the law and best practices. Online courses are often on demand, so they are helpful and flexible from an operations standpoint for your onsite staff and new hires since the training doesn’t need to be scheduled and can be taken from anywhere.
Another great option is to tailor a webinar agenda to the specific issues a company is experiencing. Webinars present a unique opportunity to go into more detail so if all of your employees have received previous fair housing training covering the basics, a webinar can do a deeper dive into problem topics, areas of confusion, or recent changes to the law that may be specific to your company, locality, or type of housing.
This is a great way of mixing up your company’s training and should be encouraged every couple of years or when the need arises. If the timing works, adding live training every 3-5 years provides both a different format with the added opportunity to provide relevant case studies and answer questions.
If live training is used, it should be training that emphasizes engagement and interaction instead of a boring recitation of legal requirements, because that type of training can reinforce employees’ negative impressions of fair housing principles. The point is to utilize different training methods because they can serve different purposes and have different benefits.
We encourage all companies to develop a short term and long-term fair housing training program that can be implemented over the course of the next five years that best serves and protects your residents, employees, and the company itself.
Often when this question is asked people assume that their state has some type of government agency that accredits or approves fair housing training, although in reality most states don’t have any such an agency. Currently we are aware of two states with an agency that approves training for housing providers that receive low income tax credits: The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has approved our Basics of Fair Housing Certification Course. We are currently working on getting approved by the Virginia DPOR. For every other state there is not really any approved or unapproved training.
The most common way that fair housing training gets reviewed is as a result of a fair housing complaint when a company’s training policies and sources may be scrutinized.
Training may also be required in order to settle a fair housing complaint or lawsuit. In
those cases, the number of hours, the topics the training should cover, and approval of the training source are frequently described in the settlement document.
All of these investigations and reviews are done on a case-by-case basis and never result in any universal standard of training requirement. Since all of these are done on a case-by-case basis, FHI or any other training provider can never guarantee that its training will meet the standard of that specific review or investigation.
That being said, FHI’s training and courses have been reviewed dozens of times in these circumstances by HUD, DOJ, and numerous nationwide and state organizations. To our knowledge, we have been found as a comprehensive source of training every single time.
We will be happy to discuss any specifics with your company, but except for those situations covered above, in most instances the training topics, length, and training source will ultimately be your company’s decision.
There are countless organizations all over the country that certify CECs at various levels. Some are nationwide, at the state or local level, private, public, or non-profit entities. All of these will have different requirements for the subject matter and length of the training.
In order for a training to be pre-approved, they often have to work with the individual organization and sometimes pay an annual fee to be on the pre-approved list. FHI is proud to train tens of thousands of housing professionals every year from thousands of companies in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
As much as we would like to, we don’t have the ability to work directly with or pay annual fees to the many different organizations that certify CECs across the country. However, training that is not pre-approved can often still be accepted. We have worked with hundreds of clients to make sure they can get our training approved by their accrediting
Often, all that these organizations need is a syllabus of the course you want approved
and some information on the course author’s qualifications; all of which we will happily provide upon request. As always FHI cannot guarantee we will be accepted by everyone, but so far, a combination of FHI’s nationwide training reputation and the information we can provide has resulted in our clients getting the CECs they need.
Additional Fair Housing Resources
To use a form or not to use a form: that is the question. Shakespeare aside, discretion needs to be part of your policy when it comes to reasonable accommodations and how they are verified.