Locating the best occupant for your rental home can be demanding. Potential occupants come in all shapes and sizes, and many have individual challenges of their own. At times, the personal challenges of an occupant go beyond with your accountabilities as a landowner, and this is where the Fair Housing Act (FHA) often comes into the picture. It is imperative to know what those accountabilities are in order to react properly to circumstances covered by the Act.
The Fair Housing Act’s reasonable accommodation requirements are designed to protect both you and your residents against disability discrimination. The rationality behind this rule holds that since certain procedures or rules might influence persons with disabilities in a different way than those without, dealing with all occupants exactly the same may actually refute disabled persons essential use-aspects of a rental home. For this purpose, the FHA permits occupants to demand “reasonable accommodations” at any point in the renting process or occupation of the property.
So, what exactly is a “reasonable” accommodation?
According to the FHA, a “reasonable” accommodation is any modification in “rules, policies, practices, or services” necessary for an individual with a disability to have equal opportunity to perform routine major life activities (for example walking, eating, sleeping) at home. This could mean that an occupant with a hearing defect wants smoke detectors with blinking lights set up in the home. Other instances of reasonable accommodations may include:
- Large print rental documents for the visually impaired
- Helping someone with mental impairments fill out paperwork
- Assigning a lower mailbox for a person in a wheelchair
- Permitting an assistance animal (including emotional support animals) in an otherwise “no pets allowed” residence
- Installing safety bars in showers or bathtubs
What makes these “reasonable” modifications is that they are both directly associated with the person’s disability and are within the capability of the property owner to tolerate. Normally, occupants are accountable for installation and exclusion of any physical alterations.
This does not mean that property owners must accommodate every demand. For example, if an occupant with a fear of dogs wishes that a neighbor’s dog is taken out from the property next door, this is undoubtedly unreasonable and may be carefully denied. Any alterations demanded by the occupant must be both required and within the property owner’s monetary and administrative capability to complete. If an original request is found to be irrational, the landowner should work with the occupant to propose another resolution that may still focus on the disabled person’s necessities. The notion of “reasonable accommodation” is extensive and relatively flexible, which means there will frequently be more than one adequate resolution.
The last thing that a property owner needs is to worry about FHA compliance. At Real Property Management Investor’s Choice, we have the capability to assure you and your property will be up to the task of acknowledging properly to lodging requests. Want to learn more? Please contact us online or call us directly at 615-810-9578.