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Understanding Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications

Understanding Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications

According to federal law, disabled renters or prospective renters with disabilities have the legal right to apply for and live in their desired rental units regardless of their disability. Property owners cannot discriminate against them based on their impairment. If you reject a disabled tenant for reasons relating to their disability, you may be violating the law. Working with Jacksonville property management companies makes it easy to understand your responsibilities and rights as a property owner.

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Reasonable Accommodation In Housing

The Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination. It promotes fairness and inclusivity in housing. The act offers various protections. One of them is that people with disabilities can request their housing providers make reasonable accommodation in practices, services, rules, or policies.

If someone submits a request to have a practice, policy, or rule modified in a certain way to accommodate someone with a disability, and the request is reasonable, it should be provided.

Anyone with a disability can request reasonable housing accommodation. One is said to be disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which significantly limits their ability to perform certain life activities. However, the term does not cover people who suffer from drug addiction. If someone with a disability is recovering from addiction, they may be said to be disabled depending on the specifics of their case.

Additionally, people without disabilities are allowed to submit requests for reasonable accommodation. They may do so on behalf of those with disabilities if they are associated with them or live with them.

The Fair Housing Act doesn’t allow property owners to ask applicants with disability discriminatory questions. As a property owner, you cannot ask about the type or extent of a renter’s disability. All applicants should be treated equally regardless of their mental or physical impairment.

How Can Renters Request Reasonable Housing Accommodation

Renters may submit their requests for reasonable housing accommodation in writing or orally. They don’t necessarily have to use the words ‘reasonable accommodation' when submitting their requests. The renter submitting a request does not need to follow any legal procedures or submit any specific forms.

The FHA also makes it illegal to deny people with disabilities their request for reasonable modification of your premises. Their request is valid if the modifications will afford them the full enjoyment of the premises. The modifications will be completed at the expense of whoever makes the request.  Exceptions are made if the property is project-based or federally subsidized. In such instances, a property manager pays for the modifications.

Note that reasonable modification requests are not similar to reasonable accommodation requests. The two are governed by different rules.

Who Must Grant Reasonable Accommodation Requests

Reasonable accommodation requests may be submitted to anyone that would make it possible for a renter with a disability to afford equal opportunities as others. This includes anyone from property owners, Jacksonville property management companies, public agencies, and corporations. Anyone that is involved in the process of providing housing may receive a reasonable accommodation request.

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The Process of Considering Reasonable Accommodation

Whoever receives reasonable accommodation requests may not keep a blanket policy in regard to all requests. Instead, every request should be handled independently. Consider the specifics and come up with a decision. 

When considering a reasonable accommodation request, you don’t need to receive any specific forms. The renters don’t have to follow any specific procedures. You cannot demand that they present the request in writing or at specific times.

If you wish to deny the request, you must first get into an interactive dialogue with whoever made it. Discuss with them the different ways in which an accommodation request may be granted. During the dialogue, you cannot be hostile. It is illegal to harass the tenant during your interaction.

What Kind of Reasonable Accommodations Can Renters Request?

There are many kinds of accommodation that renters can request. The basic requirements are that they need to be disabled and their requests have to be reasonable.

If, for example, a renter is blind, it is reasonable that they request the use of seeing-eye dogs even though your property does not allow pets. If they have a mental impairment, they may not be able to handle in-person interactions. It is okay for them to request the option of paying rent by mail even though it is against your policies.

The Role of Property Management Companies

Working with a Jacksonville property management company may help you avoid complications with reasonable accommodation for renters. They understand the law so you don’t have to. Your property management company gives you the liability insurance you need when dealing with renters.

It is illegal for property owners to discriminate against renters and potential renters based on their physical or mental impairment. Download the Guide to Finding the Best Jacksonville Property Management Company and learn more about how a property manager can help you follow the law and care for your tenants.

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