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 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. Familiarizing yourself with this topic can spare you a great deal of trouble.
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. But how can you discover if a potential renter is disabled? It’s like navigating a minefield to manage a situation like this and thus requires caution to proceed.
You should quickly grant a request if a person’s impairment is obvious and it is pertinent to that condition. If it is unclear how the request relates to their impairment, only then should you inquire about further details regarding the request. If a person’s impairment is NOT apparent, you may request verification to affirm that the requested accommodation is related to the person’s disability. This can be given by a medical professional, peer support group, non-medical service organization, or other trustworthy third party. It is not proper to ask for medical records.
Not every disabled person will need to ask for 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?
Upon receiving a request for a reasonable accommodation or modification, you will likely be inquisitive about the nature of your accommodation. You must make sure to abide by all laws and guidelines pertaining to people with disabilities as a property manager. When collecting information from a person with a disability, only request the information necessary to provide a suitable modification or to ensure the safety and accessibility of the property.
You may only inquire about a person’s disability-related needs if you need to provide reasonable accommodations, like a ramp for a wheelchair or an accessible parking space. You can request emergency contact information in the event of an emergency. You can enquire about the breed and training of an assistance animal if the owner is 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 is vital to remember to treat individuals who have disabilities with dignity and respect and to avoid requesting unnecessary or intrusive information. 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 requirements for reasonable accommodations do not apply to all buildings.
Owner-occupied single-family dwellings, apartments, and condominiums with no more than four units are typically exempt from the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirements. However, under certain circumstances, state and local fair housing laws may still oblige landlords to make reasonable modifications.
We’re Here to Help
The knowledgeable staff of Real Property Management Greater Milwaukee 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 262-309-6961.
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.