Staying abreast of changing regulations is a laudable goal, but realistically this requires a full-time employee designated to the task. Administrative staff at small, self-managed properties often wear many hats. Whether it is lack of time and resources, or simply poor management decisions, setting policy based on incorrect information is a costly mistake.

According to an article published by the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), arbitrary occupancy rules – those based on property manager preferences and not legal standards – are indeed costly. The article details the case of a property that was sued for denying a family with three small children to rent a two bedroom apartment based on a “two-per-bedroom” policy.

A spokesperson for the fair housing advocacy group that helped the couple litigate the legal challenge told the AAOA you rarely see this type of discriminatory policy in larger complexes because managers understand and apply occupancy limitations legally.

Could Credentials Limit Liability?

The “two-per-bed lawsuit” is a prime example of how not to set community rules and policies. The case also highlights the fact that obeying local and state laws judiciously won’t guarantee compliance with federal fair housing and anti-discrimination regulations.

Although there is not a nationwide standard for property management certification, investing in staff education may reduce potential liability. Credential-granting programs deliver valuable instruction about state and federal laws as well as financial and marketing strategies that boost return on investment and help managers streamline maintenance operations.

Property-wide Saving Strategy

The Rental Home Council reports that 70% of tenants remain in an apartment community for an average of five years. Staff training could be the key to unlocking the mystery behind boosting retention rates for small, self-managed properties.

Selecting a property management certification program that fits your unique community goals and resources requires a serious commitment. For maximum benefit and return on investment look for a program that offers most, if not all, of the following course modules.

  • Designing and implementing a management plan with an emphasis on technical skills, complex concepts of communication, and meeting ownership goals.
  • Staffing and maintenance for residential properties with an emphasis on scheduling, training, vendor contracts, inventory management and cost analysis. Exceptional programs also provide instruction in risk management, property inspection protocol, emergency preparedness, environment impact considerations and insurance.
  • Human resource management for multifamily properties with an emphasis on hiring, benefits, motivating employees, work place dynamics and professional development.
  • Marketing Strategies with an emphasis on statistics, research, digital technology, and reputation management. Key subtopics include: demographics and social media behaviors, Fair Housing and ADA compliance, lease design and long-term retention strategies.
  • Computer Literacy and Real Estate Applications
  • Economics
  • Accounting and Budgeting

If investing in jobs training and industry certification programs can help your property avoid just one lawsuit, increase productivity or boost retention rates by a few percentage points you will recover your investment many times over. It’s worth considering.