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What Landlords Need to Know About Reasonable Accommodation

Managing your rental properties can be hard. Along with the physical management of the property and tenants, you need to know the laws that go along with the business. Following these laws helps keep your business and tenants safe.

Understanding reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities is a critical part of being a landlord. Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations could become a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Making that type of violation, even accidentally, can result in years spent in court and cost money you’d rather not spend on pricey lawyers. Here’s what you need to know about reasonable accommodation and how to make sure your rental property business complies with the laws.

What is a Reasonable Request?

As a landlord with a single-family rental property in the Sarasota and Manatee area, you want to accommodate your tenants to the best of your abilities within the law. Depending on your tenants’ needs, you might need to accommodate a reasonable request.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) call these requests “reasonable accommodations.” These are changes, exceptions, or adjustments that might be necessary for a person with disabilities to use and enjoy your property.

These kinds of modifications can include a reserved parking spot close the building, installing wheelchair ramps, adding grab bars in showers, or allowing service animals against your no-pet policy.

Providing for reasonable accommodation is necessary when a tenant has a disability. However, it can sometimes be tough to know if a request is “reasonable” or if a tenant is trying to take advantage of a situation.

What Qualifies as a Disability?

How do you find out if your potential renter has a disability? Dealing with a reasonable request to accommodate a disability can feel like going through a minefield. You must proceed with caution.

Disabilities can include:

  • Hearing impairments
  • Mobility issues
  • Visual impairments
  • Mental illness
  • Mental retardation
  • HIV, AIDS, and AIDS-Related Complex

Some disabilities are more apparent than others.

What Information Can You Request?

If an existing tenant has an apparent disability, avoid asking for additional proof. If a current tenant requests to accommodate a disability that is less apparent, you can request verification of the disability. Again, tread lightly.

Request proof only to confirm that the modification would help the tenant’s disability. For example, if a tenant has a hearing issue, they shouldn’t request a wheelchair ramp as their accommodation. Proof can include a doctor’s note or some other form of medical documentation.

However, if you are working through the screening process with a potential tenant and they make a request, avoid requesting proof of the disability.

Under the FHA, requesting proof of a disability during the screening process can fall under discriminatory practices. As a landlord, you can’t refuse a tenant for your property based on impairment or illness.

Proper handling of a person with a disability is a wide-ranging matter with a lot of gray areas. You want to provide safe housing for any qualified tenants, and you don’t want to get on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

It is essential to know your rights and your responsibilities regarding what is reasonable and how to fulfill the request.

What is “Reasonable?”

Property owners are responsible for paying for accommodations that you determine are reasonable and meet the needs of your tenant. As a landlord, you are required to accommodate a person with a disability as long as the request doesn’t create an undue financial burden on you.

Many common modifications are free or low cost. Adding a ramp to the building or accessibility hardware inside the home are minor expenses.

Your properties might already come equipped with recommended upgrades to help make your homes appealing and functional. However, if a tenant requests significant structural updates to the house, you can deny the request.

You can also choose to make the modifications at the tenant’s expense or recommend a compromised solution.

Shed Light on the Gray Areas

The Fair Housing Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act are there to protect tenants and people with disabilities when it comes to housing. Your job is a landlord is to provide safe housing and accommodations where it’s reasonable to do so.

However, we know it can be tricky to understand the laws and work through these situations. That’s why we’re here to help. Real Property Management Sarasota & Manatee knows the FHA and ADA laws to help you serve your tenants well while staying within the law.

We have well-trained and well-educated staff on hand aid you in handling the gray areas within reasonable accommodation requests. When dealing with the federal government and observing regulations, let the experts keep you and your tenants safe.

For reasonable accommodation questions or help with any property management solutions, contact us with the link below.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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