Managing your own property can be challenging in itself, plus the many rules and regulations that you have to adhere to results to a very tiresome and time-consuming task. There are codes of conduct you must follow to accommodate persons with disabilities. One is to provide their requests for reasonable accommodations, refusal to provide these reasonable accommodations can be viewed as a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Making that kind of violation, whether or not it was intentional, can result in years spent in court, and dollars you would rather not part with spent on expensive attorneys. That’s why it is always best to take some time and educate yourself on the matter can help you avoid all that unnecessary hassle.
What is a Reasonable Request?
The best landlords know how to provide exemplary service to all tenants in Brookland, regardless of special circumstances. But how do you know if your potential renter actually has a disability? Managing a situation like this can be like walking through a minefield; you must proceed with caution. From the beginning, it’s important to know that it’s against the law to ask discriminatory questions in regard to an obvious disability or questions that may be framed to discover a disability, however if the potential renter that does not have an obvious disability is making a request for reasonable accommodations, like having a ramp built onto a porch or having towel bars lowered, or even having the carpet replaced due to severe life-threatening allergies, you can request proof of the disability.
Make it your rule of thumb to never ask questions that could be construed as discriminatory, and you will be just fine. Proper treatment of a person with a disability is a wide-ranging topic, and you don’t want to end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit, so it is important to understand both your obligations and your rights.
What Information Can You Ask Your Tenants to Provide?
First, realize that you cannot refuse to grant reasonable accommodation requests made by a person with disabilities. Working with them may feel complicated, but for as long as you apply some common sense and just comply with the requirements provided then it becomes easy. The gray area is entered when the conversation opens up to what information you can request and what is considered reasonable.
It is important to know for your own protection that you can indeed request medical proof that a person suffers from a disability if the said disability is not immediately obvious. A doctor’s note must be provided, and, in the result of a dispute, only the Department of Housing and Urban Development can determine whether the proof is sufficient or not. Also, you should be aware that you are not responsible for providing any accommodation to anyone that would place a financial burden on you as a landlord. Because you are not a renting out apartments in a complex, you will not be expected to make major changes to your home if those changes would be detrimental to your financial situation.
Are Your Properties Exempt?
Single-family homes rented without the use of a real estate agent or advertising are exempt from the federal Fair Housing Act as long as the private landlord/owner doesn’t own more than three homes at the time. Apartments of four units or less are also exempt if the owner lives in one of the units. However, even if this multi-family exemption applies to you, your rental advertising must still comply with the Act. Other exemptions include the rental of a single room in a home, qualified senior housing, and housing operated by religious or private organizations if certain requirements are met.
We’re Here to Help
In the end, know that you are not alone. At Real Property Management DC Metro, we have highly trained and well-educated staff on hand to work with you on sticky situations like these ones. While you may not necessarily need property management to handle all areas of your rental business when it comes to the federal government and adhering to regulations that can feel complex and rigid at the same time, get help. For more information, contact us or call us directly at 202-269-0303.
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.