Do you have an understanding of what reasonable accommodation includes for your tenants? As a landlord in Palm Springs CA, it's critical to follow the law and navigate your responsibilities when a tenant asks for a modification to help them with daily life in your property.
However, rental property owners also have rights when reviewing a request and coming up with a solution. Whether a resident asks for handrailings in the bathroom or an adjustment to the lease to work with their schedule of disability payments, you must accommodate tenants to a reasonable extent. Ignoring a request or choosing a solution that doesn't adequately help your resident can be a costly mistake! Our Palm Springs property management professionals have some insights to help.
Defining Reasonable Accommodation
A reasonable accommodation is a request made by a resident with a disability as allowed by law. Real estate investors must provide housing that complies with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and Fair Housing Act guidelines, including responding appropriately when a renter requests a modification.
Keep in mind that not all disabilities are physical are easily apparent. Rental property owners must listen and work with residents dealing with protecting disabilities, including visual, mobile, visual, mental retardation, hearing impairments, mental illness, and more. Each request should be handled on a case-by-case basis with a response and plan to either accommodate the modification as requested or compromise on a solution.
What Is a Modification?
While Palm Springs rental property owners must follow the law when accommodating requests, the term "reasonable" is important. "Reasonable" doesn't mean that you must remodel an entire home or apartment if a renter with mobility issues asks for that to happen.
Common accommodations include:
- Additional guard railings on walkways or stairways
- Grab handles in showers or bathtubs
- A service animal to support a resident in your rental
- A reserved parking space close to the renter's apartment
- Adding a wheelchair ramp to a home
- Adjusting the rent due date if a renter relies on social security or disability funds to pay the rent
A landlord can offer alternative solutions to a request if they can meet the needs of a resident for a lower cost or without major structural updates to the property. If a request indicates a significant renovation, property owners can deny the request and offer alternatives. Property owners do not have to go into debt, suffer undue hardship, or inconvenience other residents to accommodate a modification for another tenant.
However, ignoring a request that seems unreasonable can lead to legal trouble for a landlord. Review every request, talk with the tenant, and document how you arrived at the decision to accept it, deny it, or offer a different solution.
Property Managers Can Help With Documentation and Modifications
Can a landlord demand proof of a disability before making a modification? In some cases, it's appropriate to ask a resident to show documentation of a disability to support their need for a modification. Their request should also tie directly to enhancing their life in your rental and connected to their disability.
For example, it makes sense for a renter in a wheelchair to request a parking spot close to their unit or a wheelchair ramp addition to a single-family home. However, a resident that requests a service animal—but doesn't have any documented disabilities—could be using the request to get around your rules of not allowing pets in your properties.
Work with a Palm Springs property management company to navigate requests and handle documentation for renters when it's appropriate. Asking for the wrong type of documentation or requiring it to move forward can violate the law and lead to a lawsuit.
A Palm Springs property manager can also work with a tenant about an appropriate modification or adaptation to respond to their request. In some cases, funding is available for some types of modifications. In other instances, renters might be willing to help cover some of the costs of a property update that falls outside of funding or is unreasonable for a property owner to cover on their own.
Working with the right property management professionals helps investors avoid liabilities from mishandling a request that leads to additional injury or inhibits their ability to live in your rental property.
Respond Well to Reasonable Accommodation Requests With a Property Management Company
Palm Springs property management professionals understand the process of reasonable modifications for tenants in need. As a landlord, responding appropriately helps you build positive relationships with your residents and protects you from potential lawsuits and liabilities. If you're currently dealing with a modification request or you're not sure what to do if you get one in the future, let McLean Company help! Our property managers have the experience and expertise to help landlords follow the law while caring for renters with specific needs. Reach out and let us work with you to accommodate residents and protect your bottom line.
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