Renting out a single-family home to a disabled tenant raises a number of questions for property owners. The most important question is whether or not you are required to renovate your rental home to accommodate a tenant’s disability. By possessing the answer to this question, and understanding how to handle any requests a tenant makes for renovations, is the key to your success.
Many single-family rental property owners may not know that disabled renters have many legal protections that keep them safe. Based on the Fair Housing Act, individuals with a disability are protected from discrimination when renting or buying a home, applying for a mortgage, and seeking housing assistance. The Act also requires landlords to allow “reasonable accommodations” so a disabled person can live comfortably and safely in a rental home. Such as a tenant in a wheelchair may need grab bars installed in the shower or tub for easier access or install a ramp. At the same time someone with limited hand use may want to install special faucets or door handles.
These sorts of accommodations detail the necessary distinction between giving tenant permission to modify a rental house at his or her own expense and is required to do it for them. The law clearly states that a property owner should allow reasonable modifications, however, it does not require landlords to pay for them. Under the Act and in advance of the start of any work, your tenant has to get prior approval from you. Also, you can legally require them to return the rental house to its original condition upon moving out. You can even request that your tenant provide a detailed description of the proposed changes, require that they provide proof that the undertaking will be fulfilled according to your standards, and compel them to obtain any necessary building permits or owners association approval should it be necessary.
As the property owner, you cannot outright refuse reasonable accommodations or refuse to change policies or practices that would prevent a disabled tenant from using the house. This can be made up of requests for service animals and other accommodations that may otherwise violate the terms of your lease. This also means you absolutely cannot charge a disabled tenant more rent for making such accommodations, either. If you try to set terms or conditions different from those of other tenants, you will be in clear violation of Fair Housing laws.
As often as not, finding your way through the Fair Housing Act while renting your single-family home to a disabled tenant can be quite the challenge. Reading as much as you possibly can about the law and what you legally can and cannot do will do a lot to help, but the best option is to obtain help from property management professionals who have a background in renting single-family homes to tenants with disabilities.
Here at Real Property Management Metro, we are driven to abide by the strict adherence of all the requirements of the Fair Housing Act. We have the knowledge and the necessary background that can be of service to rental property owners like you. This can help you follow rental practices that are well within the limits of the law. Our organization of Ellicott City property management professionals can answer any questions you have and assist in keeping you out of legal trouble. Call us at 410-290-3285 or contact us online for more information.
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.