Compliance Monitoring – A Fair Housing Must

Compliance monitoring is a checks-and-balances procedure to be done regularly to assure Fair Housing policies are met.

Compliance monitoring is a checks-and-balances procedure to be done regularly to assure Fair Housing policies are met.

By The Fair Housing Institute

When was the last time your office did a compliance audit of your documentation forms and procedures? Why is it a critical practice that should be done regularly? This article will explain why compliance monitoring is important, and will share some helpful tips to either get you started or fine-tune your process.

Compliance Monitoring – Fair Housing Implications

Let’s start by defining what compliance monitoring is: Just what it sounds like. It is a checks-and-balances procedure that should be done regularly to see if every staff member is following your predetermined policies and procedures, especially when there could be fair housing implications.

A large company may have an entire department dedicated to overseeing compliance. But for smaller companies, the responsibility will fall on a specific manager or person in a leadership role. Either way, compliance monitoring helps a company identify any potential problems and correct them before they snowball or, even worse, are discovered during a fair-housing investigation.

A Common Breakdown Point – Documentation

Consider this scenario: A rather irate resident calls to complain that they received a rent increase when their neighbor did not. You immediately check both residents’ files to see if there is supporting documentation as to why this happened, but find nothing. Now what? More than likely, this is just an oversight, but unfortunately, you now have no way to prove why one resident received a rent increase when another did not, and it could be construed as discrimination.

In this scenario, we have not one but two failures. First, there was the failure to document the reason for the difference in rent. Second, the failure could have been caught before a resident became involved if there had been a regular check or compliance-monitoring procedure in place.

Steps for Better Compliance Monitoring

The first and most important step in compliance monitoring is training! As a supervisor or manager, you should never assume that everyone knows what they need to be documenting or what your company’s policies and procedures are. Every staff member, whether they are new or a seasoned veteran, should receive training as to your policies and procedures. Also, training should not be a one-and-done thing, but a continual process instead.

Once you have established a regular training regime, you need to think about how you are going to check in to ensure that it’s working. As we mentioned earlier, some larger companies have entire departments dedicated to this, but if you are a smaller company, you need to clearly identify who will be responsible and how often they will be performing a spot-check or audit.

If a compliance issue is identified, the next step is to take a deep breath and use it as a teachable moment for all involved. Share where the breakdown happened, discuss better practices to avoid it in the future, and be sure to follow up that they are followed.

The final takeaway when it comes to proper compliance monitoring is that training and follow-up are essential to identify problems to avoid or challenge a fair housing complaint.

About the author:
In 2005, The Fair Housing Institute was founded as a company with one goal: to provide educational and entertaining fair-housing compliance training at an affordable price at the click of a button.