Owning your own property can be challenging to manage. You may have only recently learned that certain behavior standards must be adhered to in order to accommodate those with disabilities. It can be illegal to refuse to make a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act. Even if unintentional, committing such an offense can cost you years in court and thousands of dollars on costly attorneys. You’ll avoid a lot of grief if you make the effort to educate yourself on the subject.
What is a Reasonable Request?
Without question, as a landlord with a rental property, you want to accommodate your tenants in any way attainable, regardless of their specific needs. However, how do you ascertain if a potential tenant has a disability? A situation like this requires careful management because it is like going through a minefield.
You ought to grant someone’s request immediately and quickly if their disability is evident and it pertains to that condition. You may only request additional information if it is uncertain how the request relates to the individual’s disability. If a person’s impairment is NOT immediately apparent, you can request verification to ensure that the requested accommodation is in fact connected to the person’s disability. One can get this from several trustworthy sources, including medical professionals, peer support groups, non-medical service agencies, and others. Requesting medical documents is improper, so don’t do it.
Not every person with a disability will need to ask for reasonable accommodation. However, anyone with a disability has the right to request or receive a reasonable modification or accommodation at any time.
What Information Can You Ask Your Tenants to Provide?
You’ll probably be interested to learn more about your accommodation after you receive a request for one or receive a request for a reasonable change. You have a responsibility as a property manager to obey all laws and guidelines pertaining to people with disabilities. Ask a person with a disability only the information that is necessary to make reasonable accommodations or to ensure the accessibility and safety of the property.
You may only request information about the individual’s disability-related requirements to provide a reasonable accommodation, such as a wheelchair ramp or an accessible parking spot. You may request emergency contact information in the event of an emergency. You may inquire about the breed and training of an assistance animal owned by a person with a disability.
You may ask for medical expert confirmation of the person’s condition if, and only if, it is unclear how the request is connected to their handicap.
It’s important to keep in mind that people with disabilities should always be treated with respect and decency, and questions about their lives should never be intrusive or unwarranted. All information should also be kept private and only given to those who truly need to know.
Are Your Properties Exempt?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that the majority of properties in the US, including commercial properties, rental homes, and public facilities, must accommodate reasonable accommodation requests from people with disabilities. The ADA’s standards for reasonable accommodations, however, do not apply to all buildings.
Owner-occupied private residences, including single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums, with no more than four units are exempt from the ADA’s reasonable accommodation standards. However, under some state and local fair housing laws, landlords may still be obligated to make reasonable modifications.
We’re Here to Help
The competent staff at Real Property Management TradeWinds is eager to explain the procedure for handling accommodation requests to you. We provide resources, conduct evaluations, and interact with tenants to ensure that disabled residents are accommodated appropriately. For more information, contact us or call us directly at 727-400-4722.
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.