Keep the FAIR in Fair Housing!

by Rick Ellis, CAM, CPM, Ellis Consulting Group

April is National Fair Housing Month.  As we dedicate ourselves to maintaining the regulations and practicing the rules of fair housing, let’s remember the best aspect of this national act: it’s FAIR!

Everyone longs for fairness.  From a very young age, children sense what is right and wrong and will often shout out, “That’s not fair!”  As adults, we learn that one of the most important characteristics we bring to our relationships is the capacity and desire to treat others right.  In the business world, our reputation is based on our ability to treat others with impartiality and objectivity.  Treating others fair is not just a nice idea…it is the basis of successful human interactions in all facets of life.

So let’s keep the FAIR in Fair Housing!  The rules are critical and you have to know how to apply them in every aspect of apartment leasing, maintenance, and management!  If you mess up, it can cost you and your company hundreds of thousands in fines and punitive damages.   Remember these basics.

The National Fair Housing Act identifies seven protected classes of people.  It is against the law to discriminate based upon the rental prospect’s:

  1. Race – Ethnic Background
  2. Color – Skin and Hair
  3. Religion or Creed – Belief System
  4. National Origin – Country they are from
  5. Sex or Gender – Male/Female/Other
  6. Disability/Handicap – Limitations to do specific life tasks
  7. Familial Status – Family make up

“No Discrimination” means we treat all people of these 7 protected classes fair and equal in all leasing, maintenance, renewal, and management activities.  Every person on your property must play by these rules including vendors, apartment locators, owners, and investors!

Don’t FREAK OUT about fair housing!  Rather, embrace the spirit of fair housing as you follow all the rules.  It’s FAIR!  This national act is one of the most important advantages and tools we have as multi-family management professionals.  Everyone wants to be treated fair.  Properly applying the law will create a leasing environment that will actually enhance your success in leasing and keeping residents.

Here are just a few of the advantages to being FAIR….Fair Housing fair.

  • Makes Sense – The fastest way to productive leasing and positive resident relations is to treat people fair and equal. Everyone responds positively to fairness!
  • Evens the Playing Field – As we all follow the rules and practice the spirit of Fair Housing, we all compete with one another on a uniform and even basis. And our entire apartment industry is seen as one that applies equality and fairness in principle and actions.
  • Enhances Leasing and Resident Relations – If you want an improved closing ratio and better resident retention, just try being fair. It is no-brainer…fair housing means better treatment of prospects and residents.  Check the apartment reviews sites to see what residents say who feel like they are mistreated.  It’s not pretty!
  • Takes Away the Guess Work – Knowing and playing by the Fair Housing Act rules means less stress and confusion for the onsite team.  Everyone knows what is FAIR and acts equally.
  • Fair Housing is FAIR! – Get it? Why consider fair housing as some sort of government mandated burden when it simply reflects the right way to treat people.

Fair Housing is not something to despise or fear.  It is a mindset that all of us would most likely want to embrace.  It creates the welcoming and friendly atmosphere our customers want and demand.  Fair Housing is the law and we must follow it to the letter, but as important, fairness is good business and will reflect on an apartment community’s bottom line.  How do you define fair housing in one quick phrase?  Try this: Treat People Right!

“Rick Ellis, CAM, CPM, is one of multihousing’s foremost consultants and educational speakers. You can contact Rick by calling (972) 256-7500 or visit him online at