It's a Risk I'm Willing to Take NOT

I had a scary thing happen to me last month. And I need to share it with all of you.

I happened to stop by a community while visiting family over the holidays. I pass it all the time when I am traveling to see my parents, and have always wanted to stop by. So, I finally did. It taught me a valuable lesson. And it can teach one to you as well.

The office was clean and well maintained. I was warmly greeted by the staff. All was great until I happened to notice the nativity scene on the table in the leasing area. During a conversation with the manager, I pointed out the potential Fair Housing issue they could face because of the nativity scene display. I wasn't playing Fair Housing Cop. I was simply trying to be helpful. I didn't want to see the property get into any type of Fair Housing issue due to the nativity scene. The answer I received was very surprising. Rather than discuss the issues of Fair Housing, the staff member simply replied, "That's a risk I'm willing to take."

I was astonished by the answer, but I didn't debate the issue. Rather, I simply said my good-byes and left the office.

I'm sorry folks, but that's *not* the correct answer. Regardless of your religious beliefs, you do NOT take risks at your community. Property managers have a fiduciary responsibility to their owners and their management companies at all times. Putting your company and owner “at risk” is never an acceptable choice for a property manager. While personal pride in the attractiveness of your leasing office and your apartment community is a wonderful characteristic, Fair Housing and all of its implications should always come first.

I'm certain this manager is wonderful. The property was clean, the interior warm and welcoming. The sidewalks were clear of snow and ice. I have no clue what her occupancy rate was (I didn't ask), but the property didn't appear to be suffering from a large vacancy factor. Once again, I'm guessing this person does a great job.

District and regional managers: Make sure your onsite teams realize how incorrect this behavior is.

Site teams: Remember who signs your paycheck.

Owners: Take time to make sure that your people don't believe in risk taking at the site.

This is a valuable lesson for everyone.