It is every landlord’s dream to find the best kind of residents possible for their property, but to scout, the ideal one can prove to be a challenge as potential renters come in many shapes and sizes and some even have their own personal challenges. These personal challenges can sometimes overlap with your responsibilities as a landlord, which is why it is important that you are an expert on the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The Act provides necessary guidelines and protection for both renter and landlord. Knowing this means you know how to respond to any given situation relating to your property.
The Fair Housing Act’s reasonable accommodation requirements are designed to protect both you and your residents against disability discrimination. Because certain rules or policies might impact persons with disabilities differently than those without, treating all residents exactly the same may actually deny disabled persons important use-aspects of a rental home. And it is this exact situation why the Act has been created and according to the FHA, persons with disabilities are allowed to request “reasonable accommodations” at any point in the leasing process or occupation of 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 could mean that a resident with a hearing impairment wants smoke detectors that have flashing lights installed in the home. Some more examples of reasonable accommodations are the following:
- 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
So, what does it mean to be considered as “reasonable” modifications? It has to be that they are both directly related to the person’s disability and are within the ability of the property owner to allow. Generally, residents are the ones who are responsible for the installation and if needed, removal of any physical modifications.
This, however, does not mean that property owners must accommodate every request. For example, if a resident with a phobia of dogs request that a neighbor’s dog is removed from the property next door, this is without a doubt unreasonable and you are allowed to deny this request. Any modifications requested by the resident must be both necessary and within the property owner’s financial and administrative ability to complete. If an initial request is regarded as unreasonable, the landlord should work with the resident to offer a substitute resolution that will still address the disabled person’s needs. The concept 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 Masters, 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 510-398-8704.
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.