Managing one’s property can be challenging. You might have just lately realized that certain standards of conduct must be adhered to to accommodate persons who have disabilities. Refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation may constitute a Fair Housing Act violation. 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. If it isn’t clear how the request relates to their handicap, only then can you ask for further details about it. If a person’s disability is NOT obvious, you can request supplementary documentation that the requested accommodation is related to the person’s disability. A physician, peer support group, non-medical service organization, or other trustworthy third parties can offer this. You shouldn’t ask for medical records.
Not every disabled person will need to ask for reasonable accommodation. The right to request or receive a reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification is, however, a fundamental human right that all people with disabilities have access to at all times.
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. You must be sure to abide by all applicable handicap laws and standards as a property manager. 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 may inquire about the breed and training of an assistance animal owned by a person with a disability.
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’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 the majority of properties in the US, including commercial properties, rental homes, and public facilities, must accommodate reasonable accommodation requests from people with disabilities. 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. In certain instances, however, state and local fair housing regulations may still require landlords to provide reasonable accommodations.
We’re Here to Help
The experienced staff at Real Property Management Wasatch is ready to explain to you the procedure for handling 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 801-889-1517 or 435-244-3394.
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.