Is Your Organization Secure When It Comes To Fair Housing?

 Stay Fair Housing Compliant with Grace Hill’s Checklist

You may not have experienced a conflict with Fair Housing compliance yet, but multifamily companies are vulnerable to such lawsuits from many fronts, and violations can be costly. 

 

For example, in April 2019 HUD reported that civil penalties for Fair Housing violations may be levied up to $16,000 for a first violation and $65,000 for future violations. Areas that leave organizations at risk include: 

  • Untrained employees
  • Outdated legal knowledge
  • Inadequate policies
  • Changing rules and legislation

 

If you’re unsure whether your organization is currently covering all the bases to avoid a Fair Housing violation, Grace Hill has a Checklist for Decreasing Fair Housing Compliance Risk just for you. 

 

Critical Fair Housing Practices

To help you determine areas of fair housing compliance that may need to be strengthened at your organization, the checklist includes:

 

  • Nuisance abatement policy and other necessary FHA compliance reminders
  • Identifying behaviors and language that may indicate discriminatory treatment
  • Keeping your sexual harassment policies up to date
  • Guidelines for religious meetings and assistance animals
  • Policies around families and children

 

There may be more examples of fair housing compliance violations than you and your staff are even aware of, so equip yourself today!

 

Why Grace Hill?

Grace Hill gives our clients tools to manage risk on every front. We provide you with comprehensive support that suits all your learning management needs, including mini-courses, free webinars, policy upkeep, and assessment methods for determining the efficacy of your training. Grace Hill continually provides across-the-board compliance support more than any other multifamily training company. 

 

Download the Checklist for Decreasing Fair Housing Compliance Risk for support in keeping track of the many important components your policies and training should include in order to minimize risk and provide a safe, fair, and positive environment for all. 

Ensure Your Sexual Harassment Policy is in Compliance

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, federal and state governments are rapidly taking increased action to crack down on sexual harassment in housing and employment. Multifamily companies may be at risk for non-compliance with new anti-harassment legislation if they aren’t keeping up with new rules and regulations. There’s never been a more important time to ensure your company is taking all the necessary steps to prevent sexual harassment. 

We at Grace Hill are dedicated to ensuring our training courses are all up to date and in line with these changes and will continue to keep pace with them to ensure you and your organization are equipped to prevent (and report) sexual harassment as necessary. As one step, we have compiled a Guide to Reducing Sexual Harassment Risk in order to clarify some points of confusion over sexual harassment policy and to help you assess your own policy and training for areas that may need to be strengthened. 

For example, do you and members of your team know: 

  • Sexual harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire in order to violate the Fair Housing Act?
  • The company employing a person accused of harassment could be found liable for failure to adequately address the allegations?
  • That there are many forms of sexual harassment, beyond the overt offenses you may already be thinking of?

Use Grace Hill’s free Essential Guide to Reducing Sexual Harassment Risk as the first step to understanding these questions and protecting your organization. Inside we clarify common myths, offer prevention tips, and provide a checklist for sexual harassment policy and training. This foundational guide will help you assess the strength of your sexual harassment prevention program so you can lower your organization’s risk. 

We want to help you identify state and national laws around harassment, find multiple channels for both employee and resident reporting, and develop methods for frequent managerial training. Download the Essential Guide to Reducing Sexual Harassment Risk to begin protecting your organization, as well as its valued employees and residents. 

Download the Grace Hill Essential Guide to Reducing Sexual Harassment Risk today!

Recent Discrimination Rulings That Could Put You at Risk of FHA violations

The civil penalty for a first-time FHA violation is $19,787.

Cases involving FHA violation can be costly and time-consuming. Add to that, it can be challenging to keep up with ever-changing compliance regulations and relevant court rulings, but doing so is necessary in order to avoid making costly mistakes. Fortunately, Grace Hill works closely with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd P.A. (HSB) to monitor emerging compliance topics for multifamily property managers. Here are two recent rulings with big implications for property managers.

 

 

Gender Identity and/or Sexual Orientation Discrimination

 

The US District Court in Colorado recently determined that discrimination against applicants based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation constitutes discrimination under the FHA.

 

The Court heard a case where a family made up of two married lesbian women, one of whom is transgender, and two children was denied housing at a rental property. The family was denied as applicants for the townhouse because of their “unique relationship” and because, according to the landlord, they have “kept a low profile” and “want to continue it” that way.

 

The court ruled in favor of the couple, finding that denial of their application based on failure to conform to gender stereotypes constituted discrimination based on gender under the FHA. However, the court declined to specifically find that discrimination based on gender identity is sex discrimination under the FHA, mainly due to procedural reasons.

 

How to Protect Your Property

 

Make sure written policies advise employees not to treat applicants or tenants any differently based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

 

Train all employees, particularly leasing agents, how to avoid discriminating based on gender identity or sexual orientation. This includes educating them on potential scenarios in which they might discriminate unknowingly.

 

Prohibiting Children is Discriminating Against Families  

 

The FHA makes it unlawful to discriminate against families with children, including denying or limiting housing to families because they have children under the age of 18, making discriminatory statements, and imposing rules or policies that discriminate against families with children.

 

In a recent case, a property company in Kansas terminated a resident’s lease when she asked if her grandchild, whom she had recently obtained custody of, could be added to the lease. The property manager allegedly told the resident that the owner “doesn’t want kids on the property.”

 

The outcome of the case was that HUD charged the property owners, operator, and office manager with violating the FHA.

 

How to Protect Your Property

 

State in written policies that it is not possible to lawfully ensure a child-free property and that employees should not, through action or comment, convey the desire for one.

 

Inform all employees of the above facts and train them to avoid imposing any limitations on children in their leasing procedures as well as in any behavioral regulations they impose on tenants.

 

Want More?

 

We share the most relevant compliance updates with Platinum customers each month in The Vantage Pro and quarterly for all Vision customers in The Vantage. We also incorporate that information into our courseware regularly, so your people and teams are always being trained on the latest, emerging compliance topics. Schedule a demo to learn more.  

 

Compliance Plus: Your Edge On Tracking Property Management Regulations

Grace Hill has always lead the charge in providing the deepest catalog of up-to-date compliance training for property management firms. Now we’re making the monthly national, local and issue monitoring we do as part of our routine courseware improvement available directly to our Vision clients.

Read more about Compliance Plus, our complete program for keeping you on top of property management regulations that impact your training.

Compliance Plus Overview from Grace Hill on Vimeo.