Renting a single-family home to a disabled tenant does, as a matter of fact, raise some questions and issues for property owners. Quite possibly the most imperative question is whether or not you are required to renovate your rental home to accommodate a tenant’s disability. Acknowledging the solution to this concern, and how to handle any requests a tenant makes for renovations, is paramount to accomplishment and success as a rental property owner.
Disabled renters have many legal protections that single-family rental property owners have to know about. With 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” to be established in the rental house in order for a disabled person to live comfortably and safely. For example, a tenant in a wheelchair will want to install grab bars in the shower or tub for easier access or install a ramp, and a person with limited hand use will desire to install special faucets or door handles.
These styles of accommodations raise up a salient disparity between letting a tenant modify a rental house at his or her own expense and who is required to do it for them. Notwithstanding that the law clearly states that a property owner should allow reasonable modifications, it does not require landlords to pay for them. Under the Act, your tenant should have to ask prior approval from you before work on any modification starts, and you could legally require them to return the rental house to its original condition upon moving out. You could likewise charge your tenant for a detailed description of the proposed changes, requiring them to provide proof that the task would have to be carried about in a professional process, and have them obtain any necessary building permits or owners association approval where necessary.
In addition, 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 encompasses requests for service animals and other accommodations that may otherwise violate the terms of your lease. You absolutely cannot charge a disabled tenant more rent for having those accommodations, either. Any endeavors to set terms or conditions greatly different from those of other tenants are a clear violation of Fair Housing laws.
As clearly shown, working through the Fair Housing Act and also renting your single-family home to a disabled tenant can thus be a major challenge. Notwithstanding that practically knowing the law and what you legally can and cannot do may be useful, the ideal choice is to have advice and help from property management professionals with a lot of previous experience in leasing single-family homes to tenants with disabilities.
At Real Property Management Lonestar, we are follow strict adherence to all requirements of the Fair Housing Act. We have the needed skills and extensive background to benefit rental property owners exactly like you, helping you follow rental practices that are well within the limits of the law. Our team of Austin property management professionals will keep you out of legal trouble and provide support in responding to questions and issues that will eventually arise. Please contact us online or call our Austin office at 512-520-9060 or our Dallas office at 972-949-2000 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.