Nobody has ever said that managing your own property was easy. Managing your own property is tedious, time-consuming, difficult and every bit challenging for the most part. You might have just realized that there are specific codes of conduct you need to follow to accommodate persons with disabilities. Rejecting such requests to provide reasonable accommodations can be viewed as a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Committing that kind of violation, even if not done on purpose, means years of battling it out in court, and dollars you would rather not spend on expensive attorneys. Spending some time to read up on the matter can help you prevent all that unnecessary trouble.
What is a Reasonable Request?
Naturally, as a landlord with a single-family rental residence in Charles County, you want to accommodate all of your renters, whatever their specific needs, in any manner you can. But, how do you know if your possible renter actually has a disability? Managing a situation such as this can feel like going through a minefield; you need to proceed with caution.
If the hopeful renter does not have an observable disability but is putting in a request for reasonable accommodations, like having a ramp built onto a porch or having towel bars lowered, or even having the carpet replaced due to severe life-threatening allergies, you can request proof of the disability. Appropriate treatment of a person with a disability is an extensive topic, and you don’t want to end up on the bad end of a lawsuit, so understanding both your obligations and your rights is crucial.
What Information Can You Ask Your Tenants to Provide?
First, realize that you cannot deny reasonable accommodation requests from people with disabilities. The gray area comes when the conversation opens up to what information you can ask for and what is deemed reasonable. It is important to know, for your own safety, that you can definitely ask for medical proof that a person has a disability if the said disability is not obvious right away. A doctor’s note must be given, and in the result of a dispute, only the Department of Housing and Urban Development can decide whether the proof is sufficient or not. Moreover, you should be mindful that you are not responsible for setting up any accommodation that, as a landlord, would put a financial burden on you. Because you are not renting out apartments in a complex, you are not expected to make extreme changes to your home if those changes would be damaging 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
Bottom-line is, know that you are not alone. Our team at Real Property Management Gold, are highly trained and well-educated staff on hand to work with you on sticky situations like these. Though you might not necessarily require property management to deal with all aspects of your rental business, when it comes to the federal government and adhering to regulations that can be complex and rigid all at once, you should acquire help. For more information, contact us or call us directly at 301-392-2172. That is, after all, what we are here for.