Getting people to rent in your property is difficult but finding the ideal ones can prove to be the real challenge. There are many different kinds of renters, they all come in many shapes and sizes and have personal challenges of their own. These personal challenges of a resident can become a source of convergence with your duties as a landlord, and this is where you would come to find the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to be most helpful. It is key to figuring out how to act accordingly to circumstances you’d likely be presented with.
The Fair Housing Act’s reasonable accommodation requirements are designed to protect both you and your residents against disability discrimination. Because the reasoning behind this policy is that some rules or policies that are currently being implemented are most likely to impact persons with disabilities than those without, to treat all residents, in the same manner, may actually deny disabled persons some needed features of a rental home. It is for this reason that the FHA affords persons with disabilities the freedom to request for “reasonable accommodations” at any point in the leasing process or when he or she is already living in the property.
So, what exactly is a “reasonable” accommodation?
According to the FHA, a “reasonable” accommodation is any modification in “rules, policies, practices, or services” necessary for an individual with a disability to have equal opportunity to perform routine major life activities (for example walking, eating, sleeping) at home. This may cover situations such as a resident with a hearing impairment wants smoke detectors with flashing lights installed in the home. Other examples of reasonable accommodations may include:
- Large print rental documents for the visually impaired
- Helping someone with mental impairments fill out paperwork
- Assigning a lower mailbox for a person in a wheelchair
- Permitting an assistance animal (including emotional support animals) in an otherwise “no pets allowed” residence
- Installing safety bars in showers or bathtubs
What qualifies these “reasonable” modifications are if they are both directly related to the person’s disability and are within the ability of the property owner to consent. The usual rule that is being followed is that residents are accountable for installation and elimination of any physical amendments.
Not to be confused with a resident’s right to just demand outright as this does not guarantee that property owners have to accommodate every single request. For instance, a resident that has a phobia of dogs requests that a neighbor’s dog is removed from the property next door is clearly unreasonable and can be ejected safely. Any changes requested by the resident must be both necessary and within the property owner’s monetary and administrative means to complete. If an initial request is deemed to be unreasonable, the landlord ought to extend some sort of alternative solution to the renter that may still address the disabled person’s needs. The idea of “reasonable accommodation” is broad and quite flexible, which means there will often be more than one effective solution.
The last thing that a property owner needs is to worry about FHA compliance. At Real Property Management Greater Madison Metro, we have the expertise to guarantee you and your property will be up to the challenge of responding appropriately to accommodation requests. Want to learn more? Please contact us online or call us directly at 608-310-1290.