As more people qualify for mortgages, it is important that landlords find new methods that attract a larger potential pool of tenants. One way is to make your rental homes friendlier for people with disabilities. In fact, landlords of properties with more than four units may be required to set aside a certain number of units under a number of laws. Nevertheless, many independent disabled persons have good jobs and are reliable tenants.

There are many federal laws governing rental discrimination against people with disabilities. These include:


In addition, each state and many localities have additional protections for persons with disabilities. Often, portions of the Federal Laws deal more with discrimination against the disabled, than how to adapt residences for the disabled. The rest of this post offers tips for doing that.

Making Rental Units Friendlier for the Disabled
With so many agencies involved in providing housing for the disabled, many landlords wince at the thought of encouraging disabled people to lease their properties. This is a mistake. An extensive number of disabled people live independently and can handle themselves just fine in a home equipped for the disabled. They have jobs, many highly paid, and are less rambunctious than many other residents. Additionally, residences outfitted for the disabled are perfect for the elderly who live alone and are independent, live with close relatives, or have paid help to assist them.
A disabled person has the same desire for a residence that they can decorate to their taste, in accordance with the terms of the lease. However, the ripple effect also makes it likely that many will have a son or daughter they live with, so larger apartments are what these caretakers are looking for.

Reasonable Accommodations and/or Modifications
With increasing frequency, tenants and prospective tenants ask property managers question such as:

  • “Will you please install grab bars in my shower?”
  • “I want to use the common areas, but I am in a wheelchair. To be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, you have to make these areas accessible.”
  • “I want to rent from you, but your buildings are old and your apartments are not wheelchair accessible, can you make an apartment accessible for me?

These questions and others about disability accommodations are frequent, so landlords and their property managers should know the proper way of responding. Most laws at the federal, state and local level require landlords to make reasonable accommodations and modifications for a handicapped tenant. Some of these may include structural changes to the interior or exterior of the building.

Examples of Reasonable Modification Include

  • Installing a grab bar in the tub
  • Widening doorways
  • Providing ramps over stairways
  • Lowering kitchen cabinets
  • Changing property walkways

Examples of Reasonable Accommodation Include

  • Giving the tenant a nearby parking space
  • Providing large print documents
  • Allowing service pets in a no-pet apartment complex and not charging pet rent or an increased deposit for the pet.
  • Moving to a downstairs unit

Whose Expense?
Who pays is determined by how much of a financial burden a landlord incurs. In general, costs of accommodation are paid for by the landlord and costs of modifications are borne by the tenant.
But imagine how much more attractive your property would be for disabled tenants, if some or all of these modifications were available to them as part of the rental package. Certainly, word of mouth and social media alone would reap rewards for all you do for the disabled in the apartment unit you have set aside for them. Widen your tenant pool and welcome the disabled to your properties.

POSTED June 04 2015 10:00 AM

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