Rental Property Fair Housing Shield

Who Are We?

We are fair housing experts

FHA filed over 600 fair housing complaints against properties like yours for violating the Fair Housing Act.

Every single case filed with HUD against these properties was selected for investigation. At least 90% of the time, the property agrees to a settlement resulting in millions in total settlements.

As a result of our experience defending consumers, we have become experts in the fair housing complaint process. We understand the complete fair housing investigation cycle from complaint submission through investigation, negotiations, and settlement.

We can protect your property.

What Does Fair Housing Advocates Do for Properties?

In 2018, FHA is putting all that knowledge and expertise to work for housing providers: HOAs, apartment complexes, condominiums, mobile home parks, and property management firms.

We've designed a cost-effective program that will educate and train staff, mitigate risk, and ultimately protect their business long before any fair housing issues become a huge financial problem.

Our program provides your staff real-time access to our experts, while we work behind-the-scenes to identify, mitigate, and even eliminate risk.

Why Do You Need Fair Housing Advocates?

We know fair housing.

Because our experts have successfully filed over 600 fair housing complaints against housing providers just like you, across the country, compelling settlements resulting in millions of dollars of damages.

We know the formula.

Because every fair housing complaint we have filed on behalf of a consumer against a property like yours, was accepted for investigation by HUD.

We know the process.

Because of our experience, we know the complete fair housing complaint process better than any organization offering conventional real estate management services.

We know the right people.

Because we have filed complaints in all 10 regions of the US Department of HUD in over 36 states and have working relationships with key players in all of these states.

We know how to protect your property.

Because our programs are designed by experts who successfully filed against hundreds of properties.

Property Shield: Rental Community Package Overview

This package is designed to best address fair housing issues faced by a rental community:

  • Receiving rental applications on a monthly basis
  • Resident turnover
  • Staff turnover
  • Change in management

Property may include amenities such as a swimming pool, fitness center, and assigned parking.

I. Fair Housing Onboarding:

  1. Rules, Regulations, and Policies Review
  2. Applicant and Resident Forms Review
  3. Reasonable Accommodations & Modifications Process Review
  4. Posted Rules Review

II. Core Services Package:

  1. Fair Housing Testing
  2. ESA Letter Screening
  3. Online Footprint Review
  4. Monthly Fair Housing Webinar Education & Training Modules
  5. New Hire & Maintenance Staff Education Webinar
  6. Monday Morning Fair Housing Call
  7. Weekly Fair Housing Q&A Call
  8. Fair Housing Consultation

III. Nonstandard Services [ à la carte; in development]

  1. Fair Housing Complaint Analysis & Strategy
  2. Customized Testing
  3. Accommodation & Modification Request Analysis
  4. Accommodation Review Process Design
  5. Conflict Management & Mitigation
  6. Fair Housing Complaint Process Webinar
  7. Customized Fair Housing Training

Property Shield: Rental Community Package Services Description

I. Fair Housing Onboarding

This first step is necessary before FHA can effectively provide its Core Services Package. FHA needs to be able to identify fair housing soft spots and potential violations.

Our onboarding process is intended to identify any obvious fair housing issues readily apparent in the property’s printed and published media, and then suggest fair housing compliant solutions to mitigate any potential risk.

1. Rules, Regulations, and Policies Review:

FHA will intake electronic copies of the association’s Rules & Regulations to identify any potentially discriminatory rules. The following documents are most relevant during the intake process:

I. Pool & Clubhouse Rules
II. Pool Use Agreement
III. Community Rules & Regulations
IV. Community Bylaws & Covenants
V. Pet & Companion Animal Policy
VI. Tenant Policy
VII. New Resident Information

2. Applicant & Resident Forms Review

FHA will review any forms the association would might require their applicants and residents to complete during the housing application process- this may include forms which would grant use of the amenities, common areas, as well as pet registration.

I. Tenant Application
II. Tenant Authorization Form
III. Pet Agreement
IV. Pet Addendum
V. Club House Reservation/Rental

3. Reasonable Accommodations & Modifications Process Review:

The purpose of this service is to review and critique an already existing accommodation or modification review process flow. ‘Process flow’ could include documents but should really show how the staff and management interact together during the interactive dialogue process to make compliant fair housing decisions. Documents would more likely be reviewed during the “Applicant & Resident Forms Review.”

FHA can evaluate your existing written Reasonable Accommodations, and Reasonable Modifications review process if one is already in place. The evaluation will identify any concerns or violations already part of your process, and provide constructive feedback to mitigate, or eliminate the risk.

Once an acceptable review process in place, your association would be eligible to participate in our “ESA Letter & Accommodations” analysis service.

If your association does not have a formal accommodation or modification review process in place, FHA can develop one as a separate deliverable.
Documents reviewed could include:

i. Request for Reasonable Modification/Accommodation Verification Form
ii. Authorization for Release of Information
iii. Reasonable Accommodation Agreement

4. Posted Rules Review

Many allegations of housing discrimination start with rules posted upon a placard at the community’s amenities and common areas. In some cases, the posted rules can differ from those printed in the official Rules & Regulations manual for the community causing confusing within its members and staff.

FHA would review any posted rules placards to uncover any unnecessary risk, and to promote message uniformity between the posted rules, and the published rules-in-fact. FHA would be interested in receiving pictures of any of the following:

i. Picture of posted Pool Rules
ii. Picture of posted Fitness Center rules
iii. Picture of Club House Rules

II. Core Services Package

The following eight services would be provided to our clients after they have completed the fair housing onboarding process. The services would typically be provided over the life of a one-year agreement.

1. Fair Housing Testing: FHA’s Flagship Fair Housing Service

FHA will conduct testing which most closely follows that recommended by HUD for fair housing organizations. Such testing is required by FHA as part of an investigation prior to writing, evidencing, and filing a fair housing complaint on behalf of a consumer.

FHA will conduct such testing as an educational tool, not an enforcement tool, to uncover any fair housing soft spots or potential violations. Our findings will serve to provide feedback and better shape a fair housing compliant process for the association.

Real world testing of your staff is critical to understanding how Fair Housing training and education is actually being implemented where it counts.

A tester results report outlining any compliance concerns or violations can be provided at the conclusion of the testing investigation.

Testing Methods:

a) Telephonic Testing: FHA will make contact with the association to engage the staff as a person seeking housing and challenge the association staff with a fair housing scenario- the test. Telephonic testing could include text messages exchanged with the association staff. An audio recording of the test call can be provided along with the tester’s report.

b) Email Testing: FHA will make contact with the association to engage the staff as a person seeking housing and challenge the association staff with a fair housing scenario- the test. The test would involve email interactions with the association staff- this may include the submission of completed forms, and documents.

c) Website Initiated Testing: Some associations have online forms on their websites. FHA will engage the association as a person seeking housing and challenge the association staff with a fair housing scenario- the test. The test will be initiated via the online form but may continue via telephone or email.

Types of Testing:

a) Service Skills: FHA would engage in a dialogue to measure both Fair Housing knowledge, as well as the staff member’s customer service skills, and ability to engage in the “interactive dialogue process,” a key component to the reasonable accommodation review process.

b) Disability Testing: Most disability testing would not require a comparative since most discrimination is by treatment, or direct application of a discriminatory rule

  • Reasonable Accommodation request
  • Reasonable Modification request

c) Familial Status Testing: Most Familial Status testing would not require a comparative since most discrimination is by treatment, or direct application of a discriminatory rule

d) Protected Class Comparative Testing: Race, Color, National Origin, Religion, and Sex/Gender. FHA can design tests using the available methods listed above to uncover discriminatory treatment on the basis of a protected class by implementing comparative testing methodology.

e) Staff Member Specific Testing: FHA can work with the association to identify a particular member of their staff as the target of a fair housing test.

f) Role Specific Testing: FHA can also customize testing methodologies to measure the fair housing aptitude of:

  • Property leasing agents
  • Property managers
  • P/T & F/T staff members accepting in-bound phone calls regarding housing availability
  • RE Agents and those ‘outside’ of the property staff

2. ESA Letter Screening: Assistance Animal Verification Letter Review

Housing providers are getting inundated with requests to waive their pet rules to accommodate an Emotional Support Animal by a disabled applicant or resident.

HUD’s accommodation review process permits the housing provider to request “reliable documentation” from the disabled person which should verify the disability, and the need for their ESA as well as the requested accommodation. The housing provider is usually given an “ESA Letter,” or some other documentation, which needs to be properly evaluated.

Each ESA Letter Screening would consider:

a) Source “reliability”
b) Disability verification
c) Disability-related need verification
d) Accommodation Requested
e) Financial & Administrative burden
f) Direct threat to Health & Safety
g) Risk of substantial physical damage

FHA can provide critical feedback about the “ESA Letter” so the housing provider can take next steps in the interactive dialogue process as well as avoid potential fair housing pitfalls.

FHA would receive each ESA Letter via email from the housing provider; likewise, FHA would provide a simple screening based upon the language of the “ESA Letter” via an email response.

3. Online Footprint Review: Annual Review

An Association’s message online can be responsible for initiating a fair housing investigation, testing, or even worse- a fair housing complaint. FHA can review your association’s online footprint to uncover any fair housing concerns. A results report outlining any compliance concerns or violations can be provided.

Online footprint may include:

a) Association Website and all web pages
b) Social Media: Facebook, Next Door
c) Online Marketing & Advertising of Property- links provided by the association

*Review to occur during month of annual membership anniversary.

4. Monthly Fair Housing Education & Training Webinar Modules

FHA provides live monthly fair housing education, and fair housing training webinars, with live Q&A sessions for its attendees. All webinars are hosted live by FHA, and only require:

  • Internet connection [for video]
  • Phone [for audio]

Our Fair Housing Training modules are comprehensive in-depth fair housing webinars which focus on essential fair housing law, guidance, or process. Each training module is part of our Core Curriculum- a set of courses we would stress our clients to consider necessary to their fair housing education. FHA training webinars could also feature special guests from the fair housing, legal, and medical community. Only FHA’s clients are invited to attend our training modules and would have access to a recorded copy online.

Our Fair Housing Education modules are designed to be less formal and are built to provide broad knowledge to a less sophisticated audience on a general fair housing subject.

FHA may invite special guest speakers from the fair housing, legal, civil rights, and medical community as well as other subject matter experts

FHA hosts at least one Fair Housing Training webinar and one Fair Housing Education webinar each month, by invitation only.

5. New Hire & Maintenance Staff Education Webinar: Quarterly

FHA designed a basic fair housing training webinar which provides a broad overview of the federal Fair Housing Act for new hires, and maintenance staff.

The webinar will cover housing discrimination on the basis of Race, Color, National Origin, Gender, Familial Status, and Disability. The webinar will also provide a small focus on the most common fair housing violations affecting disabled persons at rental communities:

i. Reasonable accommodations ii. Reasonable modifications
iii. Familial status discrimination and rules against children
The webinar will have a live Q&A session to handle any immediate concerns by the new hire.

The webinar will not provide state-specific fair housing training; all training is federal fair housing focused.

6. Monday Morning Fair Housing Call

This is a live audio call that is also recorded and made available to FHA’s clients for their review. The call is broadcast live however the agenda is fixed and there is no interaction with members; there is no video.

Subject matter can vary from reviewing a recent FHA case, to providing practical fair housing advice.

Anticipated call time of 10 minutes or less.

7. Weekly Fair Housing Q&A Call

The is a live open forum live telephonic conference call for clients only. This is not a record call and will not be accessible afterwards.

The Fair Housing Call will provide a real-time forum to address fair housing curiosities, hypotheticals, and general questions housing providers may have regarding the fair housing act. The call is an excellent opportunity to voice fair housing concerns, and pose challenging questions, which could shape future training modules.

FHA may invite special guest speakers from the fair housing, legal, civil rights, and medical community.

Anticipated call time of 60 minutes or less based upon activity

8. Fair Housing Consultation

FHA is available to provide customized feedback, advice, and counselling to its clients who need our fair housing experts available upon appointment and advance notice. These are confidential client meetings.

Most meetings fall within one of two categories: Casual, and Critical.

i. Casual: FHA is providing general fair housing advice about day-to-day activities, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures.

ii. Critical: FHA is tasked to review a critical situation involving a potential, or developing, fair housing issue which might require attention to documents, interactive dialogue, and case specifics.

Provided FHA can help resolve the issue during the phone conference, the meeting would fit within this deliverable. If the situation calls for additional work outside the scope of this deliverable, FHA would recommend we move the workload to our “Fair Housing Counselling” service
Most Consult meetings usually fall well within the 60-minute range.

Email Consultation:

FHA is also accessible via email for less time sensitive fair housing counseling and advice needs; response time is within 24 hours via email.

Real-Time Communications:

FHA prides itself as being the de facto real-time online fair housing organization and is considering making itself available via other online real-time communications channels: Skype [video, text, and call], and Telegram [has point-to-point encryption].

Patrick Coleman

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