Looking to rev up your leasing efforts?  Here is a hot tip – practice Fair Housing!  What?  Practice Fair Housing?  You mean treat everyone the same regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, gender, family status or handicap?  Isn’t that a given?

We are required by law to adhere to the federal Fair Housing guidelines.  But that’s not exactly what I mean.  

Of course we will obey the federal Fair Housing mandate.  We will never discriminate in housing based on any of the seven protected classes.  Nor will we treat people differently based on the many state and local protected classes such as student status, sexual preference and active military.  Discriminating based on these protected classes would be against the law and get us in BIG legal trouble personally, fined six figures and fired from our job.

Most on-site professionals rigidly and strictly adhere to every aspect of the Fair Housing guidelines.  These are not optional guidelines.  It is the law!  With great effort to be in compliance, leasing professionals say and do all the right things to follow the law to the letter.  This fulfills their obligation to “the law” but does that detached observance really enhance the on-site professional’s relationship and influence on a rental prospect? 

How Can Fair Housing Improve Your Leasing Presentation?

How can genuine adherence to Fair Housing energize your ability to lease more apartments?  Easy.  It is all about SPIRIT.  Rather than simply following the Fair Housing law as we are legally bound, take it to the next step.  Practice the SPIRIT of Fair Housing.  Energize your leasing presentation by remembering the problem that Fair Housing is supposed to solve – discrimination and unfair treatment.

Consider the term “fair housing”.  In our industry, we see and think housing.  After all, we are in the multi-housing business.  Instead of housing, focus on the meat of this concept – FAIR!  Sure, we must always follow every detail of the law and protect ourselves and our owners from the possibility of a costly discrimination lawsuit.  Do fully comply – but take it up a notch or more!

Let’s fully express and embrace the SPIRIT of fair housing.  Let’s be FAIR.  I mean really buy in to doing whatever it takes to make every resident and future resident feel we will do whatever is in their best interest.  Always.  Period.  Make Fair Housing a part of your FAIR leasing presentation. 

What Does FAIR Leasing Look Like?

How does a rental prospect or resident know they are being treated fairly?  Here are some simple steps that come right out of your leasing manual. 

Greeting – As a prospect enters the office, follow the “Five S’s”.  Stop what you are doing and give the visitor your full attentionStand, Smile and Shake this person’s hand with a cheerful Salutation in the first 10 seconds; make this prospect feel like they are the most important person you have seen all day. 

Qualify – Seat the prospect in the office and use a Guest Card to get the complete information on their rental needs and wants.  The Guest Card will ensure you ask the same questions and get the comprehensive qualifying information on every person.  Your FEP (Friendly, Enthusiastic and Professional) approach will make every prospect feel as though they have been treated fairly. 

Demonstrate – Provide the complete tour to every rental prospect.  Be excited and animated as you show each prospect your beautiful community, breathtaking model and perfectly prepared apartment home.  You are showing from a hot sheet ensuring that all prospects that day get to have the same fair opportunity to lease the current ready apartment homes. 

Close – All rental prospects get the very same fervent and passionate invitation to complete an application and lease the apartment RIGHT NOW!  There will be no question that you unequivocally want and expect your prospect to leave their money … now. 

Does this Fair Housing article suddenly sound like tips for effective leasing?  Exactly!  And the point is that to really practice the SPIRIT of Fair Housing in your leasing presentation you simply practice a relationship-oriented style of leasing.  That is the very slant to leasing our industry has promoted for many years.  With a basic understanding of the protected classes in your market, this positive approach to leasing will be fair, unbiased and very welcomed by renters everywhere!

Best of all, it will also result in a much more productive leasing effort.  Fair Housing – it is first and foremost FAIR.  And that approach to leasing works.  Fair Housing might be the best thing that ever happened to leasing apartments. 

Rick Ellis, CAM, CPM is the founder and president of Ellis Consulting Group.  For more information, visit www.ellisconsulting.com 

Reprinted with permission of the Apartment Association of Great Dallas.