The industry and ResMan are celebrating National Fair Housing Month to educate and spotlight the very real and ongoing discrimination that still happens within rental housing, even decades later. Let’s take a look back on Fair Housing since its beginnings in April of 1968.
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act is a law created to help limit discriminatory practices related to landlords, tenants, and housing. The act was created on the principle that every American should have an equal opportunity to seek a place to live, without being afraid of discrimination due to factors outside their control. At this time 54 years ago, The Fair Housing Act was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, a law that has motivated change within the property management industry since its passing.
The Fair Housing Act’s Creation
Attempts at fair housing in America have been around since the mid-1800s, but it was not until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s that any real change took place. The Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were two of the first attempts to address discrimination. The real groundbreaking legislation, however, was the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which was established one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Sitting Down with Fair Housing Expert, Anne Sadovsky
As someone who worked in property management when the Fair Housing Act was passed, Anne Sadovsky has been a champion for rental housing and spends most of her time speaking to properties about Fair Housing, helping them stay compliant and accountable for their residents and the laws around discrimination. We sat down with Anne to ask her a little bit about her history with Fair Housing and to better understand how far the industry has come since 1968:
It’s National Fair Housing Month. You were actually working at your first property management company a few months before the bill was passed. Tell us what you remember about the environment before the law was put into place.
I was new enough that I had no experience to understand what was happening at the site level. Training was almost non-existent. I approached my boss and suggested that we start training our team members, (in general and with things like Fair Housing laws). He said “Fine, you do it.” I had never worked on site, so I started visiting and working weekends just to see what they were doing. I was stunned! Every protected class has been denied equal treatment. When I started in the industry, we made mothers cry when WE told THEM that the property was “all adult, no kids allowed.”
It’s been 54 years since the Fair Housing Act went into place. What do you remember changing and did it change quickly? Feel free to share stories.
I had no clue about discrimination and fair housing.
Working in “HR” as personnel recruiter, I was not involved in on site daily operations. I did share in the podcast that two people from ‘the government’ showed up at my office and asked “how many “black people I had hired for management jobs.” I replied that I had not had any applicants from people of color. It was suggested that I change that. My question was ‘I am happy to do that, however I am not sure how to legally recruit people of color specifically. They responded with, “If you haven’t had any people of color apply in the next 6 months, we’ll bring you some to come work for you.” That’s what I remember about the early months of Fair Housing.
What was the response from your colleagues in the apartment industry to the Fair Housing Act? Do you remember people you worked with having any pushback or resistance?
I didn’t start teaching FH (Fair Housing) until 1988 when the last protected classes were added. Familial Status and Handicapped/Disabled changed the way we did business greatly. Prior to familial status being protected by law, we flat out advertised and told people “Adult living, no children allowed.”
In 2022, how has the industry improved and where could it use room for improvement when it comes to Fair Housing?
Savvy educated housing providers do a respectable job of complying with the longer- term laws. As America has become more sensitive to the LGBTQAI community and people with non-visible disabilities plus Sexual Harassment/Violence Against Women and Felons, the industry is still in a learning curve. Sadly, smaller companies, individually owned and managed properties seem to be less educated in Fair Housing and get many of the complaints filed. Sexual harassment, especially against low-income women, is a frequent issue.
As someone who supports and speaks frequently about it, why is Fair Housing so important to you?
First…I love this business, my clients, the associations and my desire is to help them stay out of Fair Housing trouble. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are paid in fines annually. HUD is justifiably serious about compliance and is funding big sums of money to the local housing authorities. Much of the money is used to hire testers/shoppers. What we might consider entrapment, HUD considers ‘law enforcement.” I have a new class titled “What Testers are Looking For Today.” I will explain who testers are, how they are trained and paid and how the best (and really only) plan is to know the laws and comply!
What would life be like without the Fair Housing Act?
Some housing providers feel many elements of the law are unfair; such as being fined for words, behaviors, and errors of employees. Or for mistakes made by architects in the lack of accessibility, or for persons being segregated based on the color of their skin or A disability.
This act came into being to assure EQUALITY. That’s what America is all about!
For more than 50 years we have been instructed and expected TO respect the rights of every renter. Yet many housing providers still fail to educate and supervise their team members. We hear the stories of ‘landlords’ who think they are above the law, who blatantly disregard it.
We also see huge fines, even owners who are never again allowed to manage their assets.
When one drives 80 miles per hour in a 40 MPH speed limit they should expect penalties. When housing providers discriminate, they should expect the same.
EDUCATION IS CRITICAL AND SHOULD BE PROVIDED AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR!
About Anne Sadovsky:
Anne Sadovsky is a Dallas based professional speaker. She provides training, keynotes and counsel to a variety of industries, businesses and associations and is a former Vice President of Marketing and Education of Lincoln Property Company. Her expertise makes her a sought- after speaker, consultant and trainer and her training via Zoom, webinars and seminars have educated thousands. She has officially flown almost four million miles sharing her experience, expertise, wisdom and wit.
Her most sought- after topics include Fair Housing, Customer Relations and Retention, Conflict Resolution, Change Management, Leadership Skills and Dealing with Generational Differences…customizing topics is her specialty.
Anne is a widely published author and a popular guest on radio and television talk shows nationally. Her success story has been written about in many newspapers and magazines including MONEY MAGAZINE, TEXAS BUSINESS and LADIES HOME JOURNAL.
MIRABELLA Magazine listed her as one of the One Thousand Women of the 90’s, along with Mother Teresa and Oprah Winfrey. Anne’s book “Mission Possible” with Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy was a best seller. Multi Family Pro and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas have honored her with Legends Awards. She is affiliated with numerous business and professional organizations.
She has earned a Texas Real Estate license, and is a CAM, CAPS, and RAM, a CSP Designation from the National Speakers Association along with many other designations and honorary positions. Anne is one of the most astute trainers in Fair Housing and Diversity in the industry. She has been named one of the Top Trainers by Multi Housing News.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been inspired and challenged by Anne’s story. Her message is common sense, entertaining, and enlightening. She specializes in teaching people skills and believes that “where the rubber hits the road” is when people actually come face to face. She makes a difference and helps create success in both business and personal lives.
On a personal note, Anne is ecstatically married, has two spoiled dogs and 2 noisy parrots, a large family and loves living a joyful life! You can book Anne Sadovsky for speaking engagements and learn more at annesadovsky.com.