Managing one’s own property can be challenging. It’s possible that you were only recently made aware of the need to adhere to particular standards of conduct to accommodate persons who have disabilities. The refusal to provide a reasonable accommodation may constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Even unintentionally committing that kind of offense can lead to years in court and money you’d prefer not to spend on pricey attorneys. You will avoid a lot of trouble if you make the effort to educate yourself on the issue.
What is a Reasonable Request?
Obviously, as a landlord with a rental property, you want to accommodate your tenants in any way possible, regardless of their circumstances. How do you find out if your potential tenant has a disability, though? Dealing with this situation is like navigating a minefield; use caution.
You should quickly grant a request if a person’s impairment is obvious and it is pertinent to that condition. Only if it is uncertain how the request relates to their disability can you request additional information about the request. You can request verification to ensure the requested accommodation is connected to the person’s impairment if their disability is NOT immediately apparent. This can be given by a medical professional, peer support group, non-medical service organization, or other trustworthy third party. You shouldn’t ask for medical records.
Not all people with disabilities will require reasonable accommodation. Nonetheless, individuals with disabilities have the right to request or receive reasonable modifications or accommodations at any time.
What Information Can You Ask Your Tenants to Provide?
Upon receiving a request for a reasonable accommodation or modification, you will likely be inquisitive about the nature of your accommodation. As a property manager, you must ensure compliance with all disability-related rules and regulations. Ask a person with a disability only the information that is necessary to provide a reasonable accommodation or to ensure the accessibility and safety of the property.
To set up a reasonable accommodation, such as a wheelchair ramp or an accessible parking space, you may only inquire about the person’s needs connected to their disability. You can request emergency contact information in the event of an emergency. You can find out the breed and training of an assistance animal if a person with a disability has one.
You may also request confirmation of the person’s disability from a healthcare professional if, and only if, it is unclear how the request relates to their disability.
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. In addition, only those who need to know should be privy to the collected information.
Are Your Properties Exempt?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that most public, private, and rental establishments in the United States provide accessible features and services to people with disabilities who request them. However, the ADA’s reasonable accommodation standards do not apply to all properties.
Owner-occupied single-family dwellings, apartments, and condominiums with no more than four units are typically exempt from the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirements. Under state and local fair housing regulations, landowners may still be required to provide reasonable accommodations in certain situations.
We’re Here to Help
The knowledgeable staff of Real Property Management Thrive is anxious to assist you in comprehending the process of responding to accommodation requests. To ensure that renters with disabilities are properly accommodated, we offer tools, carry out assessments, and engage with tenants. For more information, contact us or call us directly at 603-255-4100.
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.