Managing your own property can be hard. You may have only recently learned that certain behavioral standards must be adhered to in order to accommodate individuals with disabilities. The Fair Housing Act may be broken if reasonable accommodations are not made. Even if unintentional, committing such an offense can cost you years in court and thousands of dollars on costly attorneys. Familiarizing yourself with this topic can spare you a great deal of trouble.
What is a Reasonable Request?
Of course, as a landlord with a place to rent, you want to make every effort to accommodate every one of your tenants, regardless of their unique situation. But how can you discover if a potential renter is disabled? Dealing with this situation is like navigating a minefield; use caution.
If a person’s disability is evident and their request is appropriate for their condition, you should immediately grant their request. Only if it is uncertain how the request relates to their disability can you request additional information about the request. 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. A physician, peer support group, non-medical service organization, or other trustworthy third parties can offer this. Requesting medical documents is improper, so don’t do it.
Not all people with disabilities will require reasonable accommodation. All people with disabilities, however, have the right to request or receive a reasonable modification or accommodation at any time.
What Information Can You Ask Your Tenants to Provide?
You might be interested in learning more about your accommodation after you get a request for one or learn of a reasonable change. You have a responsibility as a property manager to obey all laws and guidelines pertaining to people with disabilities. When collecting details from a person with a disability, only request the information necessary to provide a reasonable accommodation or to ensure the safety and accessibility 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 may request emergency contact information in the event of an emergency. Asking about the breed and training of the animal is acceptable if a person with a disability has one.
You may even request proof of the person’s disability from a medical expert if—and only if—it is unclear how the request is connected to their condition.
It is vital to remember to treat individuals who have disabilities with dignity and respect and to avoid requesting unnecessary or intrusive information. 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 most public, private, and rental establishments in the United States provide accessible features and services to people with disabilities who request them. 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 excluded from the ADA’s reasonable accommodation rules. However, under certain circumstances, state and local fair housing laws may still oblige landlords to make reasonable modifications.
We’re Here to Help
The skilled staff at Real Property Management DC Metro is eager to explain the procedure for fulfilling 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 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.