Handling your own property can be challenging. You might have only just known that there are certain codes of conduct to accommodate persons with disabilities that you must adhere to. Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations can be viewed as an encroachment of the Fair Housing Act. Making that sort of violation, even accidentally, can result in years spent in court and money you’d rather not spend on expensive lawyers. Setting aside some time to inform yourself on the matter can help you prevent all that needless hassle.
What is a Reasonable Request?
Of course, as a landlord with a single-family rental property in Cocoa, FL, you want to accommodate all of your renters, regardless of their specific needs, however, you can. But, how do you find out if your possible renter actually has a disability? Dealing with a situation such as this can feel like walking through a minefield; you must continue with caution.
If the possible renter doesn’t have an obvious disability but is asking for reasonable accommodations, like getting a ramp built onto a porch or having towel rods lowered, or even replacing the carpet because of severe life-threatening allergies, you can request proof of the disability. Proper handling of a person with a disability is a wide-ranging matter, and you don’t want to get on the wrong end of a lawsuit, so it is important to know both your rights and your responsibilities.
What Information Can You Ask Your Tenants to Provide?
To begin with, know that you cannot refuse to approve reasonable accommodation requests asked for by individuals with disabilities. The gray area comes when the conversation opens up to what information you can request and what is regarded as 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 submitted, and should a dispute arise, only the Department of Housing and Urban Development can determine whether the proof is adequate or not. Also, you need to know that you are not responsible for giving any accommodation to anyone that would be financially burdensome for you as a landlord. Since you are not a renting out apartments in a complex, making major renovations that would be detrimental to your financial situation is not required.
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
In the end, understand that you are not alone. At Real Property Management Brevard, we have well-trained and well-educated staff on hand aid you in handling sticky situations such as these. While you may not actually need property management to handle all parts of your rental business, when dealing with the federal government and observing regulations that can feel intricate and rigid at the same time, you should get assistance. For more information, contact us or call us directly at 321-610-8022.