December 2022 Coach's Quiz
Okay, now it’s your turn. We’ve explained the nine fair housing pitfalls you and your leasing and management agents must be aware of when dealing with tenant transfer requests and how to avoid them. Now you can reinforce and evaluate how well you’ve learned the lesson. Take the Coach’s Quiz below to see if you can apply the analysis to real-life situations.
A married couple with an adorable 2-year-old child and twins on the way has outgrown their one-bedroom apartment and wants to relocate to a two-bedroom unit. The only two-bedroom currently available is a 16th-floor unit with an open balcony, which you consider dangerous and totally unsuitable for a couple with a toddler and infants on the way. What should you do?
a. Not tell the couple about the vacancy for their own safety.
b. Tell the couple that the unit is vacant but strongly advise them not to take it.
c. Tell the couple the unit is vacant but inform them that it has an open balcony.
A tenant who walks with a cane wants to transfer to an apartment on the ground floor near his assigned parking space to minimize how far he must walk to his car. Unfortunately, there’s currently no unit available that fits his needs. What should you do?
a. Flatly reject his accommodations request.
b. Consider moving his parking space closer to his apartment instead.
c. Request documentation of the disability and why he needs to transfer to accommodate it.
COACH’S ANSWERS & EXPLANATIONS
Correct answer: c
Reason: Pitfalls #6 and #7 apply here:
Pitfall #6: Using Transfers to Discriminate Against Families with Children
Pitfall #7: Using Transfers as a “Steering” Mechanism
This scenario illustrates how handling transfer requests can expose you to liability for family status discrimination and steering. The cardinal rule: Tenants have the right to make their own housing decisions even if you deem them unwise or dangerous. In other words, you’re not allowed to say or do things, or omit to say or do things, to protect tenants from themselves.
In this scenario, you must notify the tenants of all the available two-bedroom apartments and, if they meet your normal and nondiscriminatory transfer criteria, lease them the one they want. However, while you can’t try to influence their decision, you are allowed to point out the hazards their desired transfer location poses to children—open balcony, pool with no lifeguard, lead paint, etc.—as long as the information is factual, not misleading, and presented in a neutral way that an ordinary third party listening to the information would not judge as being intended to discourage them from leasing the unit because they have children. So, c. is the right answer.
Wrong answers explained:
a. Concealing or lying to tenants about a vacancy because they have children (or, for that matter, any other protected characteristic) is a clear and obvious example of illegal steering, even if it’s well intentioned.
b. The same thing is true about trying to talk tenants out of relocating to an apartment because they have children, even if you sincerely believe you’re doing it for their own good.
Correct answer: b
Reason: Pitfalls #2 & #4 apply here:
Pitfall #2: Flatly Rejecting Accommodations Transfers
Pitfall #4: Improperly Verifying a Disabled Tenant’s Need for Transfer
This scenario is intended to make you apply the rules that govern the handling of transfers that are requested as an accommodation for a tenant with a disability. You must grant the transfer if the tenant is really disabled, the transfer is necessary to enable him to use and enjoy the property, and the accommodation is reasonable. The request for relocation to a unit closer to a disabled tenant’s assigned parking space in this scenario meets the first two prongs; the problem is that there are no suitable units available. And since you don’t have to actually evict or transfer one tenant to accommodate another, the requested accommodation isn’t reasonable. However, you’re not done yet. Before flat out nixing the transfer, you must explore alternative ways to accommodate the tenant’s disability. And that means b. is the right answer.
Wrong answers explained:
a. While lack of an available apartment on the ground floor closer to the tenant’s parking space is grounds for rejecting the transfer, you shouldn’t hit the REJECT button unless and until you consider the availability of reasonable alternatives. The first thing to consider would be assigning him a new parking space that would be closer to his current apartment. If there are currently no such spaces available, you may want to ask—but you wouldn’t have to force—a tenant with a suitable parking space to swap.
c. You can ask tenants who request reasonable accommodations for documentation of their disability and need for the accommodation, but only if those things are not obvious or readily apparent. The reason c. is wrong is that in this case, it’s pretty obvious that a tenant who needs a cane to walk has a disability requiring that he be closer to his parking space.
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|Avoid 9 Discrimination Pitfalls When Tenants Seek Unit Transfers|