As a landlord, you may be faced with a disabled tenant who has recently suffered from an auto accident, stroke, or some other life-altering event. In such a situation, you will automatically start to wonder what reasonable modifications you should allow your tenant to make to your rental to make his life easier.

What Are "Reasonable" Modifications?
In most states, a disabled tenant can make reasonable modifications to his or her home to make it more disability friendly. As a landlord, you might be wondering what are truly reasonable modifications. Remember that all states different, but there are a few modifications that usually fall under the definition of "reasonable" modifications that you will be required to allow your tenant the freedom to undertake at his own expense.

  • If the disabled tenant suffers from limited hand or leg usage, he can install special faucets, rails, and door handles to aid in his ability to use his hands and stay on his legs when walking.
  • A blind tenant can modify kitchen appliances, such as stoves or refrigerators, so he can cook for himself.
  • A person who is confined to a wheelchair or walker can install ramps to gain access to the home or inside the home to gain access to key areas such as a raised living room, kitchen, bathroom or bedroom.
  • A person confined to a wheelchair can also lower the countertops in the kitchen or bathroom to make them more accessible.
  • As a landlord, you must modify any clause in the rental agreement prohibiting pets if the disabled person is provided with a service animal, such as a guide dog or hearing dog.
  • The tenant can modify any parking spot or ask for a parking spot closer to the home if he has a disabled parking permit.

Landlord Entitlements
As the landlord, you have a few entitlements that are not unreasonable to request from any disabled tenant before any modifications are made to your rental property. You should make it perfectly clear that, prior to any modifications being made to the rental property, the tenant must ask you for pre-approval. Any modifications to your rental property should be made by a skilled construction professional that is licensed and bonded. Any building permits that are required must also be obtained by the tenant and presented to you before any remodels or improvements take place.
If the modifications that the tenant is performing are extreme, such as lowering the countertops in the home, you can require that the tenant pay money into an interest-bearing escrow account for the amount estimated for the restoration to get the rental home back to its original state if and when the tenant moves out.
You can request proof from a medical professional that the modifications your tenant wants to do to your rental property are necessary and will actually improve his life.
Helping to make your tenant's life easier and more pleasant will aid you in forming a stronger relationship with your tenant, which may ensure that he continues to rent your property for an extended time period. Usually just a few simple modifications are all that are required for most disabled people to greatly improve their lives overall.

POSTED June 03 2015 1:36 PM

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