Real Estate Tips |7 min read

8 Ways Landlords Can Leverage the Equal Housing Opportunity

Landlords need to know equal housing opportunity laws to protect themselves from liability. However, adherence to equal housing opportunity laws serves more than a practical purpose. It can also boost your customer experience management. Think of it this way. Equal opportunity housing and disability laws are associated solely with certain groups. However, everyone benefits from the spirit of these laws. When you level the playing field for all, it fosters customer satisfaction. It’s just good business.

Main Takeaways

Landlords can leverage equal housing opportunity-related practices and principles to attract and retain tenants. They can transform it from being an obligation to being a marketing bonus. For example, while tenants with sensory disabilities can benefit from quiet hour accommodations, it could also draw in other potential tenants. In this scenario, at-home workers, students, families, and other groups may prize set quiet hours. In turn, implementing this accessible, equal housing opportunity enhances overall customer experience management.

Table of Contents

Fair Housing Act Review

As property managers in North Virginia, we know you must follow The Fair Housing Act when you rent out to various groups. The Act protects equal opportunity housing. It prohibits housing discrimination based on a person’s protected classes. This law forbids you from committing the below actions based on someone’s protected classes:

  • Denying access to a rental home
  • Turning away someone from a lease agreement
  • Changing your terms, conditions, or leasing privileges
  • Offer different housing options and amenities
  • Forbid someone from accessing a rental-related membership or service
  • Ask for medical records

Virginia’s 12 Protected Classes

In Virginia, there are 12 protected classes to remember. All the below classes are guaranteed equal opportunity housing. Moreover, all people belong to one or more of these protected classes. These classes include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Familial Status
  • Disability
  • Elderliness
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Source of Funds
  • Gender Identity
  • Military Status

Americans with Disabilities Act Overview

With the Americans with Disabilities Act, you must make reasonable accommodations to allow for an equal housing opportunity. In other words, you must provide people with disabilities equal access to common, shared rental-related facilities and activities. For example, if a renter needs a wheelchair ramp to access the apartment building, you must install one.

How Landlords Can Benefit from Equal Opportunity Housing Practices

1. Maintain Pet-Friendly Apartments

People with disabilities may request pets for safety and emotional support accomodations. However, pets have an appeal far beyond the disability community. If you allow pets in general, this could be a draw that sets your property apart. Initially, this might seem like a nuisance, but there are ways you can make it work. You can limit the kinds of pets you’ll allow, such as barring large dogs. Also, you can make tenants adhere to certain rules. For instance, a stipulation of pet ownership could be maintaining pet cleanliness and low noise. Also, you can order them to keep pets on leashes whenever they are outside their units.

2. Gather Tenant Emergency Contacts

Experts suggest that landlords get senior adults’ contacts. Still, it’s always a good idea to gather emergency contacts in case tenants need them, no matter the tenant. For example, you could list one of their close relatives or friends as contacts. This should include address details. Also, you should have their chosen doctor or hospital’s information. After all, you never know when a “what-if” will strike. This way, tenants will have a built-in support system, should the worst happen.

3. Improve Safety and Accessibility Measures

People assume that only vulnerable tenants need enhanced safety and accessibility measures for an equal housing opportunity, but this just isn’t true. Everyone needs usable, safe facilities. And if you proactively take care of safety measures ahead of time, you can avoid potential headaches later. To accomplish accessibility, you could install staircase handrails, stair lifts, ramps, and other accessibility features. In terms of safety from intruders, fixes like strong locks, security cameras, and panic buttons can go a long way. Additionally, you should ensure that floors aren’t slippery, as this could be a safety hazard. To boot, this is a basic feature of customer experience management. It can make the property much more attractive to safety-conscious tenants. Safety and ease of access are core factors they weigh when choosing a place to rent. Needless to say, if your property doesn’t meet their needs, they might not give it a second look.

4. Make Your Rent Schedule Flexible

SSI checks and other fixed funds are commonly associated with protected classes. However, anyone might be using these types of funds. In addition, people may receive these funds at different timeframes than your rent schedule. By no fault of their own, they may not be able to pay you at the set time you’d normally require. So, you should provide flexibility for when during the month your tenants send their rent. In cases like this, property managers can handle the stress of coordinating payment time frames for you. They can negotiate deals with your tenants, so everyone is on the same page. Furthermore, they can track down the payment when it comes so you don’t have to. Property managers’ sole job is to deal with tenants, so they are more experienced with tenants with different extenuating circumstances. They have specialized procedures for various issues that arise.

5. Make Sure Your Location is Convenient

Again, convenience and accessibility are universal points of customer experience management. Many citizens prioritize convenience when they choose their apartments. So, before you buy a property, you should consider your property’s proximity to essential places. For instance, your property should be near grocery stores, pharmacies, and medical facilities.

6. Make Sure the Environment is Quiet

Certain environments can be inaccessible for protected classes, but there’s more to it than that. For example, someone with autism may struggle with a loud environment, but so might families or at-home workers. After all, different environments suit different tastes. Neighborhoods filled with partying and blaring music might be great for a college kid, but not so much for others. Many tenants prize quiet areas where they can have privacy and peace, not just ones who need accommodations. So, for optimal customer experience management, you should choose locations that reflect that. Noisy neighbors and general commotion are big no-nos. You can help achieve peace and quiet by holding quiet hours after a certain time of day, say, 8 pm.

7. Avoid Eviction When Possible

Experts often say that you should be flexible with elderly tenants who face financial issues. However, this also applies to other tenants, too. Don’t jump to eviction without hearing the other side of the story. After all, if you were in their shoes, you’d want to be treated right. So, stick with the golden rule and keep a compassionate, open mind. For instance, if the tenant is forgetful and struggles to pay on time, you or your property manager could set up a system to work around this. Or, if they accidentally damage a part of your property, you can simply ask them to pay for a replacement.

8. Offer Non-Tech-Based Options

Some tenants, like older adults, aren’t tech-savvy. High-tech solutions don’t work for everyone. After all, different strokes work for different folks. So, you should offer varied methods of using apartment facilities. For example, you could offer multiple ways of paying the rent. Some people could leave checks at your doorstep, which requires no technology. Others, who may prefer to make decisions with a swipe of their phone, can rely on an app to pay their rent. Or, you can offer some traditional appliances in addition to smart ones. Giving your tenants options is an integral part of customer experience management.

equal housing opportunityLet BMG Handle Customer Experience Management 

Overall, you can maximize tenant satisfaction if you remember that different people use your apartment in different ways. People are individuals, and nothing is one-size-fits-all. When you make room for people to flourish in all shapes and sizes, you give all individuals an equal housing opportunity. All the above advice can elevate your brand, but nothing will change if you can’t implement them properly. If you don’t want to map out the logistics of meeting tenant needs, property managers can take on the mantle for you. We can handle rent collection, device maintenance, safety measures, and countless other issues you’d have to adjust for each tenant. Contact us today to take the burden of landlord duties off your shoulders.

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