Fair Housing from the Leasing Professional’s Perspective Part II: Family Time

September 17th, 2013 Posted by About Mystery Shopping, Featured Content No Comment yet

In my last post, I discussed Fair Housing from the Leasing Professional’s Perspective when it comes to questions about safety.  Just like we discussed with the safety question,  leasing agents cringe when asked about the types of residents who live in their community.

Fair Housing Resident Demographics QuestionsThis is another type of question that they can only answer in certain ways. Getting put on the spot with questions related to Fair Housing can make a leasing professional feel like their hands are tied behind their back.

As a former leasing agent, a question that I encountered quite often had to do with the demographics of the community. Straight up, my number one priority was to protect my residents. I didn’t want to give away any information about the people living on the property to someone who was pretty much a total stranger.

Who lives here? As I usually say, it’s best to be organic. You don’t have to be an Academy Award winner to ask a question in a convincing way. Pretty much every time an agent catches someone in the act of mystery shopping, it goes back to the Fair Housing questions. In addition to being hard for a leasing professional to answer, they are the hardest for shoppers to ask. Not to mention, leasing professionals look out for those questions to try to determine whether or  not you’re a mystery shopper. So be sure to ask them in an inconspicuous way. Here are some ways to ask about the people on the property:

  • “I live alone so I’m not really keen on lots of kids running around. Are there lots of families?”
  • When you pass the playground – if there is a playground – ask, “Are there a lot of kids here?”
  • “I’m single. Are there mostly people my age at this property?”
  • “I noticed there was a (college, high school, etc. – make sure you actually have seen whatever it is you say) next to the property. Are there a lot of (insert type of people that go there)?”

Ask a Leasing Agent: The reason that question about the residents cannot be directly answered by a leasing professional is because a potential tenant could claim that they were offered a particular apartment because of their own demographic (race, age, familial status, etc.). This is why agents also cannot ask you about your demographic information or discuss the demographics of the residents on the property. Here are some responses that you should hope to hear when you ask questions about the types of residents living on the property:

  • “There are all sorts of people on this property, as we rent to anyone who passes our application process.” This answer is a safe bet for the leasing professional. They’re just saying that if someone qualifies to rent there, they can. Plain. And. Simple.
  • “Unfortunately, to protect our residents, we’re not allowed to discuss the demographics of the people who live here. When you live here, we’ll do the same for you.” (This was always my favorite.)
  • “We like all of our residents and we’re sure you would like it here, too.”

No matter how the leasing professional chooses to answer the questions, your main concern is only to be certain that they do not divulge any specific resident demographic details. After all, if you were a resident, you’d want them to do the same.

-Lindley K

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