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Disabled tenants present special challenges.  You can’t treat them differently from able-bodied renters.  At the same time, though, you may need to make special accommodations for them.

The first thing to clarify is who is considered disabled.  The federal Fair Housing Act and Fair Housing Amendments state that a person is disabled if he or she has a physical or mental disability that limits one or more major life activities.  These may include:

  • mobility, visual and/or hearing impairments
  • mental illness or retardation
  • chronic alcoholism (if it is being addressed in a recovery program)
  • HIV or AIDS

As a landlord, you cannot make decisions about where a disabled individual will live on a property.  For example, if you are renting two units, one on the ground floor and one the second floor, you must show both units to a disabled applicant, even if you believe the ground floor unit would be best for the person.

After a disabled tenant moves in, and at your own expense, you may also need to adjust rules, regulations and/or services to give that individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a rental.  For example, if you provide parking, you may need to offer a disabled tenant in a wheelchair a space that is spacious and close to where the person lives.

A disabled tenant also has the right to make reasonable accommodations at his or her own expense.  Special faucets or door handles or a wheelchair ramp are some of the accommodations such an individual could ask for.  You have the right to approve these changes and ask for proof that they will address the disabled tenant’s needs.

Handling tenants, especially those with special needs, can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do.  The Herman Boswell team of real estate experts can make that task a little easier for you.  We have the experience and the know-how you need to help you get the job done right.  For property management you can count on, contact us today!