Dealing with a fair housing claim is difficult enough without adding a claim of retaliation to it. This article gives practical advice on how to avoid such claims as well as hopefully prevent a fair housing violation to begin with.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Table of contents
What Is Retaliation?
A retaliation claim can happen when a resident who has already launched a fair housing claim against you alleges that you are retaliating or treating them unfairly due to this claim. An appearance of retaliation can take many different forms. Given the situation’s sensitivity, caution must be taken when dealing with this resident; however tempting it might be to brush off any further requests from them.
Consider this scenario: a staff member just received a maintenance request from a resident that has made a fair housing claim. The staff member directs the maintenance worker to put their work order at the bottom of the list. If the resident realizes their request is being purposely delayed, you have just made this situation go from bad to worse.
A good thing to remember is that even if the original fair housing claim is dismissed, you can still be charged with retaliation if you failed to handle the situation correctly and fairly. Regardless of the fair housing claim, a property never has the right to retaliate in any way.
Critical fair housing training is required to help staff understand the repercussions of retaliatory behavior and probably would have helped avoid the original charge to begin with.
What Are Some Best Practices To Avoid Retaliation Claims?
At the heart of the matter, you need to focus on doing business as usual. Under no circumstance should you treat the accusing resident any differently than any other resident. That being said, how should you handle this resident if they begin to feel they are untouchable, perhaps violating one or more of your property’s rules or policies?
Do not ignore these actions. Every resident is required to follow the rules. Again, given the delicacy of the situation, a good best practice might be to pull in a fair housing attorney to help you follow up on any lease violations. This will aid in avoiding even the appearance of retaliation.
What Is the Best Way To Avoid a Fair Housing Complaint?
The best way to avoid a fair housing complaint is to do your utmost not to give your residents anything to complain about in the first place. Ongoing fair housing training for every staff member is an imperative practice. If, despite training and best practices, a complaint is lodged, it’s best to limit any contact between the resident and any staff members involved. Thorough documentation is also required. Take detailed notes of every interaction you have with the resident to clearly showcase your side of any issue raised.
Property management can have its ups and downs, but by following these best practices and continuing your training, you will have the tools you need to keep you and your company fair housing compliant.
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