It can be hard to manage your own property. You could have just realized that there are specific codes of conduct you must observe to accommodate persons with disabilities. Refusal to offer reasonable accommodations could be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Making that type of violation, even inadvertently, can lead to years spent in court and money you would preferably not spend on costly attorneys. Spending some time to read up on the matter can help you prevent all that unnecessary hassle.
What is a Reasonable Request?
Naturally, as a landlord with a single-family residence to rent out in Saratoga Springs, you want to accommodate all of your tenants, regardless of their particular needs, in any manner you can. But, how do you know if your potential tenant really has a disability? Managing a situation such as this can feel like walking through a minefield; you need to proceed with caution.
If the potential tenant does not have a very apparent disability but is asking for reasonable accommodations, such as having a ramp built onto a porch or having towel rods lowered, or even changing carpeting due to severe life-threatening allergies, you can request proof of the disability. Proper handling of an individual with a disability is a wide-ranging matter, and you don’t want to end up on the bad end of a lawsuit, so it is important to recognize both your obligations and your rights.
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 imperative that you know, for your own protection, that you can certainly request medical proof that a person suffers from a disability if that disability is not instantly obvious. A doctor’s note should be provided, and if there is a dispute, only the Department of Housing and Urban Development can resolve whether the proof is satisfactory or not. Also, you have to be aware that you are not responsible for setting up any accommodation to anyone that would be a burden on your finances on you as a landlord. Because you are not a renting out apartments in a complex, you will not be expected to perform major changes to your home if they would be detrimental 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
Finally, know that you are not alone. At Real Property Management Utah County, we have available staff who are highly trained and well educated to work with you on tricky situations like these ones. While you might not necessarily need property management to handle all parts of your rental business, when it comes to dealing with the federal government and adhering to regulations that can be complex and rigid at the same time, you should get help. For more information, contact us or call us directly at 801-224-0033.