It is never easy to be an owner and to manage your property at the same time. You could have just realized that there are specific codes of conduct you must observe to accommodate persons with disabilities. Refusal to give reasonable accommodations can be seen as a Fair Housing Act violation. Making that type of violation, even unintentionally, can result in years spent in court and money you would rather not part with spent on costly lawyers. Taking some time to read up on the matter could help you avoid all that needless hassle.
What is a Reasonable Request?
Naturally, as a landlord with a single-family rental property in Sudbury, you want to accommodate all of your residents, whatever their particular needs, in any manner you can. But, how do you know if your potential tenant truly has a disability? Handling this kind of a situation can be like going through a minefield; you have to proceed with caution.
If the potential renter does not have a clearly visible disability but is making a request for reasonable accommodations, like getting a ramp built onto a porch or lowering towel rods or even having the carpet changed because of severe life-threatening allergies, you can request proof of the disability. Proper handling of a person with a disability is a broad and complex matter, and you don’t want to get on the wrong end of a lawsuit. This is why it is important to know both your rights and your responsibilities.
What Information Can You Ask Your Tenants to Provide?
To start with, recognize that you cannot deny reasonable accommodation requests made by people with disabilities. What’s unclear is, when the conversation is brought to the table, what you can request and what you must avoid asking. For your own protection, it is vital to know that you can certainly request medical proof that a person suffers from a disability if that disability is not obvious straight away. A doctor’s note must be submitted, and, should a dispute arise, only the Department of Housing and Urban Development can determine whether the proof is adequate or not. Also, you have to be aware that you are not responsible for setting up any accommodation to anyone that would be a burden on your finances on you as a landlord. As you are not renting out apartments in a complex, you are not expected to perform major changes to your property if those changes would be harmful 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, realize that you are not alone. At Real Property Management Metro West-Worcester, we have well-trained and well-educated staff on hand to aid you in handling sticky situations such as these. While you might not necessarily need property management to handle all parts of your rental business, when dealing with the federal government and adhering to regulations that can be complex and rigid at the same time, you should get aid. For additional information, contact us or call us directly at 508-329-6000. After all, that is what we are here for.
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.