Your Resident Requested a Reasonable Accommodation – Did You Hear It?

Episode 23 of Fair Housing Insiders

Your Resident Requested a Reasonable Accommodation - Did You Hear It?- A woman standing with her hand up to her ear so she can listen to a resident's reasonable accommodation request.

Our latest episode focuses again on communication. Your resident requested a reasonable accommodation: did you hear it? Residents may not always communicate effectively. This is why all staff need to be trained to listen carefully, especially when dealing with reasonable accommodation requests.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Highlights of Episode 23 – Your Resident Requested a Reasonable Accommodation – Did You Hear It?

Reasonable Accommodation Requests- All Shapes and Sizes

Reasonable accommodation requests can take on many different forms. Are you listening to them? Remember, residents are generally not going to use industry-specific terms like: disability, reasonable accommodation, or modification. Active listening is critical to ensure nothing is missed.

Having your staff trained to pick up on subtle cues is essential. For example, in the scenario we showed a resident who makes a request to a staff member for better parking due to his arthritis. Notice that he did not specifically ask for a reasonable accommodation. Still, the staff member quickly ascertained that a physical impairment had been mentioned.

The staff member asked the right question next: “Are you making the request based on a disability”? The answer to this question will give the staff member clear direction about what steps should happen next and clarify with the resident what they are basing their request on. 

If the resident confirms that the request is based on a disability, the staff member can now complete the reasonable accommodation request and verification forms. Good communication between staff and the resident needs to be maintained throughout the process.

Avoid a Fair Housing Complaint -Train Everyone

What about other staff members outside of the leasing and management office/s? Should they be trained to actively listen to the residents as well? Yes! Every staff member bears some level of responsibility and should be fully trained to avoid any potential fair housing complaints. 

Consider a slight variation on the scenario discussed earlier. What if the resident brought up their concerns with a maintenance employee? Even though this particular staff member does not have the same responsibilities as the leasing or management team, they still need to act.

First, determine if a request is actually being made. Then instruct the resident to bring this request to management’s attention. Secondly, they would need to file a report with management detailing the interaction. This way there is documentation for management to follow up on in the event that the resident fails to make the request personally.

Fair Housing Training and Communication

Proper training will aid in all these situations. But what should the training focus on? Most importantly, it should focus on effective communication. How to listen and ask the proper questions for clarification.

For example, we are advocates of role-playing. Write down every possible scenario you and your staff can think of and then play them out. This creates a great educational experience and helps staff practice what they are learning.

Fair Housing – Final Takeaway

In conclusion, remember, ignorance is not a defense to a fair housing complaint. It is our job to be actively listening to our residents and taking appropriate action when needed.

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