If you own rental properties, it's vital that you understand the legal obligations you have to your tenants. Being aware of your legal responsibilities allows you to avoid fines and other penalties, build good relationships with tenants, and maintain a positive reputation as a responsive property owner in the community.
Understanding reasonable accommodation is one of the most important aspects of good tenant management. So, what does this term mean, why is it so important, and who can help you handle these requests correctly?
Here, we provide everything you need to know about working with tenants requesting accommodations for disabilities.
What Is Reasonable Accommodation in Housing?
The Federal Fair Housing Act is designed to ensure that people who need housing don't face discrimination and are not prevented from getting into a home if they meet the qualifications for a property. This legislation is detailed and has specific rules to help govern landlord-tenant relationships, including clarifying the rights of people with disabilities to request accommodation from their housing providers.
Someone is considered disabled if they have a mental or physical impairment that creates significant limitations in one or more major areas of life. Being generally regarded as having this type of impairment, or having a record of impairment, can also fit the definition of disabled.
Companies that handle Indianapolis property management for rentals are aware of these specific legal requirements. That makes them great allies for property owners who want to ensure renters are treated fairly but don't have the time to fully focus on managing their properties themselves.
What Can Someone Ask For as a Reasonable Accommodation?
An accommodation request asks for changes to a policy, rule, service, or practice and the adjustment of one or more of those areas to allow someone with a disability to use and enjoy a dwelling.
For example, tenants with mobility issues may benefit from amenities such as grab bars installed strategically throughout the unit, an access ramp into a home or building, or a reserved parking spot with easy access to the property.
Additionally, a renter with severe anxiety may request a waived pet fee or exception to a no-pet policy to allow them to keep an emotional support animal in the home. Property owners should require these requests to be made in writing to clarify the need and accommodation.
This accommodation request can include modifying the property, such as adding grab bars in the bathroom. When reviewing a modification request, property owners must accommodate and pay for the adjustment to the property as long as it's not an undue financial burden or "unreasonable."
For good tenants requesting a significant modification to the residence, property owners can work with the tenant on a solution to cover the costs. It can be worth it to make the adjustment for a long-term tenant who needs some help to remain in the property.
Who Is Protected Under These Guidelines?
People who meet the definition of disabled under the Fair Housing Act are protected under these guidelines. Additionally, someone who lives with someone with a disability or is associated with them may make requests on their behalf.
When you have rental properties and partner with a property management company Indianapolis investors trust with managing tenant screening, and more, you can feel confident that experts will review and address accommodation requests appropriately. That way, you know that laws are being followed, and you won't need to worry about unintentionally discriminating against someone with a disability.
How Is "Reasonable" Determined?
Determining what is "reasonable" when it comes to accommodations can be extremely important. While the law requires accommodation for requests, it does not require rental property owners to fall into financial difficulty to modify a structure for a tenant's request.
You don't necessarily have to make any and every requested accommodation or modification that someone asks for. If a request puts other tenants in harm's way or causes inconvenience to other residents, it's okay to work with the tenant making the request on an alternative solution. However, determining what is "reasonable" vs. what is not is something you don't want to get wrong.
Responding appropriately to inquiries about your property and requests for reasonable accommodations from current tenants is vital for your protection. Consulting with one of the best rental management companies Indianapolis offers can be the best solution to reviewing and responding appropriately to these requests.
A property manager can help you analyze the solution, work with your tenant, and follow the law.
Professional Property Management for Rentals Helps Owners Manage Accommodation Requests
Reasonable accommodation requests can be tricky, but they don't have to be with the right property managers guiding you! When you work with a company like ES Property Management, you can rely on our experts to advise you on your legal responsibilities to tenants with disabilities and how to best provide for their needs without overextending yourself.
Our experience with Indianapolis rental properties also ensures you don't have to worry about any of the day-to-day operations of your rental properties. Instead, you can focus on other areas of life, activities you enjoy, and expanding your portfolio.
Contact us today to learn more about our property management services! Then, be sure to request a copy of our free resource, "The Guide to Finding the Best Property Manager in Indianapolis."