How To Patch Drywall Ceiling

One of the most common household chores that gets put off is fixing a crack in a drywall ceiling.

Although this task can be somewhat labor-intensive, the actual step by step process is rather easy.

Make sure you have a stepladder, scaffold, or platform that can let you safely reach the repair site. Once you do, you’ll be ready to follow these steps.

1. Gather Your Necessary Tools And Equipment.

You’re going to need joint compound, a putty knife, and a drywall sander. If the crack is rather wide, you will want to have some drywall tape.

You’ll also want matching paint, texture or spackle if necessary, and a paint brush.

2. Clean Out The Drywall Crack.

Most cracks can be brushed out by hand.

A small soft-bristle brush can help to clean out dust or debris that is difficult to remove.

A shop vacuum cleaner can also pull out stuck items.

Do not use water or other liquids.

3. Apply The Drywall Tape [Optional].

If you need to use drywall tape, now is the time to apply it.

Make sure the crack is center-positioned underneath the tape so you have a strong repair.

4. Apply The Joint Compound.

Using your putty knife, apply the joint compound directly into the crack or on top of the drywall tape.

Use short horizontal strokes to create a firm repair and then long vertical strokes to create a flush surface.

Allow to completely dry, which may take 2-8 hours depending on the thickness of the compound.

5. Sand It Down Flush.

Take your drywall sander to the joint compound that has completely dried and create a flush surface with the rest of your wall.

It’s fine if you can kind of see the drywall tape through the joint compound.

6. Add Texture [Optional].

If your ceiling has been textured, now is the time to add this component.

Apply it to the repair site and overlap it to the rest of the ceiling for a seamless look.

Allow the texture to dry completely.

Once your texture has dried, your ceiling is now ready to receive a new coat of paint.

If your paint is more than 12 months old, enough fading has likely occurred that just painting the repair site won’t be good enough to create a seamless repair.

Finish this final step and you’ll know how to patch a drywall ceiling.

How To Get Rid of Bermuda Grass

Knowing how to get rid of Bermuda grass can help you to make sure your lawn looks as beautiful as you want it to be.

Your method of removal depends on how much Bermuda grass needs to be removed.

Some lawns are almost 100% this variety, but others only have a few invading roots that need to be addressed.

Here are the best 4 options at your disposal right now.

1. Herbicide

This is the easiest of all solutions.

Just apply the herbicide directly to the Bermuda grass once it has reached a minimum height of 6 inches.

Continue to water your lawn as you normally would and then apply the herbicide. Make sure you are aware of the manufacturer’s toxicity warnings.

2. Tarping

Bermuda grass does not like a lot of heat.

If you have a large section of lawn that is made up of this grass, then you can bake it out by applying a clear plastic tarp over the affected area.

You’ll need to weigh the tarp down, but then sunlight will do the rest of the work for you.

It may take 3-4 weeks for complete death to occur. Then just remove the dead grass and plant your preferred items.

3. Mulching

If you’re changing your landscaping, then this option might be a better choice as it will help to enrich your soil.

Any dark landscaping fabric spread over the Bermuda grass will work, but you must make sure it is completely covered.

Then apply at least 10 inches of mulch over the landscaping fabric. This will kill the grass, but leave the soil intact, and allow you to plant additional items.

4. Cultivation

If you dig up the roots of the Bermuda grass, it will eventually die off in a week or two.

You’ll need to cultivate the ground to expose the roots to the sunlight. Avoid watering the lawn while using this method. Then cultivate the ground after the 1-2 week period and monitor for signs of growth.

It may take 2-4 cultivation efforts to eliminate the offending grass. Bermuda grass can be remarkably stubborn.

These suggestions will help you know how to get rid of Bermuda grass is a safe and effective manner. Follow all instructions on tools or products for best results.

How To Seal Sliding Glass Doors

One of the greatest places of energy loss for any home are the sliding glass doors it may have.

When the colder months come along, the cooler air comes through the thin glass of the door, triggering the furnace to work harder and longer.

In order to seal your sliding glass doors, you’ll need to create an artificial double-pane effect to prevent cold air from come into the home and the warm air from escaping.

Here are the steps to follow if you want to know how to seal sliding glass doors in an effective manner.

Step #1: Close And Lock Your Door.

If you don’t lock your door, then the following steps will be much more difficult to complete.

You will be working to reduce overall energy loss through temperature changes instead.

Unlock your door only for the installation of weather stripping and/or compression strips if they are needed.

Step #2: Measure Your Door For Size – Not The Glass.

You will be installing an insulation panel over the glass on your sliding door.

In order to properly install it, you’ll need the measurements of your door frame and panels. Many folks just measure the areas of glass and this creates problems with the installation.

If you need to make marks on your door to keep track of measurements, then make sure you use a pencil.

Measure from the outside edges of the flat door and the sides of the stationary panel in addition to the height measurements.

Step #3: Clean Out Your Door.

A sliding glass door can get an amazing amount of dirt and debris trapped in its tracks.

This may contaminate your insulation panel when installing it, so make sure you take the time to thoroughly clean the door frame.

If you have mold or mildew in the frame, then use antibacterial wipes to clean away the mess for best results.

Mold and mildew spray cleaners can be corrosive to your frame and the glass itself.

Step #4: Cut Your Insulation Panel.

Most insulation panels are made from a thin sheet of plastic. It is very reminiscent of shrink wrap. Use the measurements made earlier to cut the plastic to size.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly install the plastic wrap once it has been sized correctly.

You may need to shrink the plastic with a hot hair dryer or other household appliance to create the energy efficient barrier against the cold that you need.

If you need to affix the plastic to the door frame, use a double-sided tape for best results.

Step #5: Install Any Weather Stripping That May Be Needed.

Most sliding glass doors are installed with weather stripping already in place.

If you look between the two glass panels, you’ll likely see brush fin or fin seal weather stripping in place.

If not, then you’ll want to install this after you’ve finished with the insulation panel.

Peel the backing off of the weather stripping where indicated and then install on the frame of the door and not the glass.

Glass collects condensation that will eventually cause the weather stripping to fall off. Continue until the gap between the doors has been completely filled.

Step #6: Install Compression Strips If Necessary.

Compression strips are usually made from rubber or a similar synthetic material. They are cut to size for the length of the sliding door channel.

Their goal is to seal the channels which may exist around the sash for the door.

You may also wish to install these strips along the vertical seals of where the door locks if there are gaps that can be seen in the frame of the door.

Make sure the strips you purchase are both moisture and chemical resistant for best results.

Step #7: Test Your Results.

Now that you’ve installed all of your weather-proofing components, it is time to give your door a test run.

If your furnace is still working harder than it should be to maintain a consistent indoor temperature, then you may have left an insulation gap for your sliding glass door.

Repeat the steps to make sure that you’ve covered everything.

A second layer of glass insulation may also be necessary for homes that see temperatures that are regularly below freezing.

Knowing how to seal sliding glass doors can save you a bundle on your utility costs throughout the colder months. Gather your products, follow these steps, and you’ll be able to have a home that is warmer all Winter long.

How To Patch Stucco Exterior

Stucco looks incredible and durable when you first see it.

It’s a surface that can protect an exterior against the damaging elements of just about any type of weather.

Yet over time, the cement shell that forms a stucco exterior can crack under weather changes, buckle under the pressure of landscaping, and damage the wall itself.

Stucco that is properly installed and maintained as been known to last for a century.

If you see cracks beginning to form in your stucco exterior, however, then you’ll need to make a patch.

Here’s how you’ll do it.

Step #1: Break Off Any Loose Stucco.

The goal is to remove the damaged concrete without damaging the wood lath underneath it.

Most folks will use a hammer for this, but a hammer and chisel combination tends to provide the best results. You will want to only have stucco that is firmly attached to the wall.

Cut away any metal mesh.

Then cover the repair site with builder’s paper and add new metal mesh.

Step #2: Mix Up Your Stucco Recipe.

You’ll need about half a bag of Portland cement, 6 shovels of mason’s sand, 1 shovel of hydrated lime, and 0.5 cup of an acrylic bonding agent.

Mix this together in a wheelbarrow until it looks like cement frosting.

You now have about 30 minutes to apply your stucco patch.

Make sure you wash off any stucco that gets on your skin right away because it can cause burns.

Step #3: Apply The Stucco.

Using a cement trowel, begin to apply the stucco directly to the repair area. A thinner coat works better than a thicker coat while making this repair.

As the stucco begins to dry, you can add a second and even a third coat to the exterior.

Use the trowel to spread the stucco smooth and flush with the rest of the wall. Any small holes or cracks that could not be removed earlier can be filled as well.

Allow to dry for 72 hours.

Step #4: Paint To Match.

Now you’re ready to paint the exterior of your home to cover the repair area.

You may need to paint the entire home depending on the amount of fading that has occurred.

Knowing how to patch a stucco exterior can give your home up to a century of being able to withstand the elements. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to fix your home up in no time at all.

How To Seal Stamped Concrete

The final step in the installation or the ongoing maintenance of stamped concrete is to apply a sealant.

The sealer must be suitable for the outdoor environmental conditions of your region.

When properly applied, the stamped concrete will be resistant to stains or chemicals, have protection against abrasion, and enrich the color of the concrete itself. It will also make the concrete easier to clean on a regular basis.

Choosing the right sealant is often more complicated than applying it if you want to know how to seal stamped concrete.

You’ll have several questions that you must ask yourself to make sure you’re getting the sealer that will do the best job possible.

What Conditions Will The Sealant Need To Resist?

If you live in the Pacific Northwest of the US, you’d want to have a sealant that was moisture-resistant.

If you live in the US Midwest, you’d want something that could withstand large temperature changes, prolonged sunlight, but still have a certain level of weather-resistance.

Don’t look at your average weather cycle to answer this. Look to see what the worst weather could be and then plan for that for the best results.

What Is The Coverage Rate Of The Sealant?

A sealer must be applied in a certain way for it to be effective.

This means you’ll need to apply it over the specific square feet or meters for the container you decide to purchase.

Measure out your stamped concrete and then compare that measurement to what your preferred sealant can provide.

What Will The Drying Time Be?

Some sealants can dry in 30-60 minutes.

Others may take 24-72 hours to dry and then another 24-72 hours for the curing process to finish.

Since your stamped concrete is likely outside, you’ll need to have a product that can work with the upcoming weather forecast.

If it’s going to rain in a couple days, look for a fast-drying sealant.


Is The Sealer Able To Breathe?

Some sealants penetrate into the porous concrete to create a very solid, shiny surface.

Others provide a more natural look that lets your concrete move and shift slightly as the outdoor elements allow.

If your stamped concrete is going to be exposed to sunlight consistently, you’ll also want a product that is UV resistant so you’re not left with a yellowing effect like one would see with an old newspaper.

How Long Will The Sealant Last?

Many sealants will last for about 1 year without much difficulty.

Some premium options may extend this timing to 3-5 years.

It’s important to know how long your preferred sealant will last because you’ll need to reapply the sealant before the expiration date for best results.

Once you’ve answered this questions and have selected your preferred sealant, then you’re ready to get to work.

You’ll need to clean off the concrete so that there is no dirt, dust, or debris that can interfere with your work.

Check the lowest spots of your stamped pattern to make sure there isn’t any moisture that has accumulated there. Then you’re ready to follow these additional steps.

Step #1: Apply Your Sealant In a Thin Layer.

Using a paint roller or similar device, apply your preferred sealant as thinly as possible.

If you apply the sealer with too much thickness, then it will just puddle on your concrete and potentially cause it to turn a different color that can be difficult to buff out without further sealant.

Step #2: Don’t Mix Your Sealants.

You can choose a water-based sealer or a solvent-based sealer, but you shouldn’t try to use both.

Solvents will eat through the other sealant and just waste your money.

Step #3: Allow The Concrete To Absorb The Sealant.

This may take 10 minutes or it may take a couple of hours. This depends on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once you’ve allowed the concrete to absorb the sealant, wipe away any excess that may be puddling.

Give it another hour or two to dry and then apply a second coat of sealant.

Step #4: Check For a Blotchy Appearance.

Concrete can have may peaks and dips to it, especially with a stamping pattern.

A sealant will level out the surface, but if there isn’t enough sealant used, it will create a blotchy effect to the glossy look you may be trying to obtain.

Continue to apply thin layers of sealant until you receive a uniform appearance.

Step #5: Be Careful About Secondary Pigments.

If you’ve used a heavy secondary color on your stamped concrete, then your sealant may choose to apply to the color and not to the concrete itself.

If this is the case, you’ll need to strip away the secondary color and any sealant you may have applied.

At best, only light tinting will generally work with a concrete sealer.

Knowing how to seal stamped concrete means finding the right sealer and applying it thinly in coat after coat until you receive a uniform surface.

Don’t use the concrete until the manufacturer’s instructions recommend. In doing so, you’ll have a surface that looks great at any time of year.

Everything You Need to Know About Hiring On-Site/24-Hour Maintenance

A major maintenance issue can leave you holding the bill for thousands of dollars in repairs.

A burst pipe can pump hundreds of gallons of water onto your property and leave a flood of damage behind.

An electrical issue can quickly lead to a fire. Timely response to reported maintenance issues can dramatically reduce the number of major problems.

Having a member of your maintenance team live on-site so that they may respond to an emergency if needed is one way to keep those big bills at bay. The trick to getting that continuous maintenance lies in finding the right person to hire.

Choosing the Right Type of Maintenance Worker

Before hiring someone to tackle the everyday problems that crop up with rental properties, it is important to judge the potential cost savings.

Is it cheaper to use an on-call handyman service or install a resident property manager? What are the pros and cons?

Before you can decide, you need to look at your current expenses.

As an industry standard, you should be setting aside approximately 1 percent of the property value for maintenance each year. Fannie Mae suggests a 2 percent holdover for maintenance.

Even if you don’t spend the money in the current year, apportioning these funds can help with major capital repairs like a new roof.

Once you know the expected costs for all of your properties, you can make some decisions regarding the type of maintenance worker.

Contracted Service Provider

Choosing an on-call handyman service helps reduce the amount of paperwork on your end.

The workers are not your employees, and you only need to deal with invoices as they are generated.

Anything you spend on the service is tax-deductible at the end of the year, and you can stack repairs to get the most out of every service call.

The downside is the wait time between an issue and the repair.

If tenants know that you will need to schedule a repair, they may wait to report a problem.

Quality is another issue. Even if you work with the same service provider, you will likely deal with several workers, all of differing skill levels.

On-Site Property Manager

If you bring in a worker to handle these calls, you suddenly have an employee, and if your employee works full-time, you need to set up a compensation plan.

You might want to include showing and listing apartments as part of the job duties, in addition to tackling maintenance calls.

Depending on the situation, you might be able to avoid paying employer taxes if you offer a live-in situation.

Some states and cities, notably California and New York City, require a live-in property manager for buildings with a certain number of units (16 in California and nine in NYC).

When you hire a live-in property manager to deal with maintenance and vacancies, you can avoid federal payroll taxes as long as:

  • The manager lives in one of your rental properties.
  • Lodging is offered for your convenience, not the employee’s.
  • You require the employee to live-in as a condition of employment.

Contracted Property Manager

Another solution is to contract out the services of a property manager without offering a live-in situation.

If the manager works for you, you need to ensure that you file and pay all appropriate employer taxes and handle issues like paid time off, worker’s compensation insurance and healthcare.

If you need a full-time property manager or could lower your maintenance costs, consider offering in-kind value, for example, offering rent reduction for services rendered. Hiring an on-site manager is often the best way to get round-the-clock maintenance service at the lowest cost.

What to Look for in a Property Manager

If you’ve decided to hire a live-in manager, you need to start looking at qualifications and skills.

People with certifications as journeymen plumbers and/or electricians can handle most maintenance tasks.

They can usually install a water heater or other appliances, repair an outlet or fix a leaky faucet. If they don’t already have painting and landscaping skills, these are fairly easy to acquire.

Since journeymen in trade professions are licensed to work independently, it might be even more cost-effective to find someone who has worked in the construction field but not pursued a license.

Before hiring anyone to take on a live-in position, it is a good idea to obtain a criminal background report and run a reference check.

The more you know about previous on-the-job performance, the better your hiring decision will be.

Avoid Endless Onboarding With Good Hiring Practices

A live-in property manager handles a lot of day-to-day maintenance and helps keep units generating income.

When choosing someone for a trusted position, it is always a good idea to demand an extended probation period. That gives you an opportunity to see how the prospective hire performs while working for you.

You can see how the worker tackles different maintenance jobs and get feedback from your tenants. You’ll want to see how your employee handles showing an apartment, prioritizing repairs and prepping apartments for turnover.

Taking the time to hire the right person can help you keep a good employee for years to come.

How to Fix Standing Water in Dishwasher

One of the most common problems that occur with a dishwasher is that it will have standing water in the base of the appliance after it completes a wash cycle. The bad news is that a repair will have to be made, but the good news is that most people can take care of this situation on their own and sometimes do it without any tools! First and foremost, before trying to fix a standing water situation, make sure to unplug the dishwasher.

Is the Dishwasher Plugged Up With Food Debris?

The most common reason for a dishwasher to have standing water in it is because food debris has clogged up the drainage system within the appliance itself. When you open up the dishwasher, first remove the standing water as best you can. Then remove the bottom sprayer arm because it will just generally pop out. If the screen has food debris on it, take a few moments to clean it up at this point in time.

Next you’ll need to remove the screen. It’s a simple pressure lock in the middle of the dishwasher where the sprayer arm attaches. Rotate this out and the entire assembly will come out. Look inside the screen to see if slime or debris has clogged up inside the feeder portion of the device. If it has, clean it out and you’ve likely solved the problem.

While the dishwasher is apart, however, you may wish to take a thin metal snake and run it through the drainage area. This will help to dislodge any other clogs caused by slime or food that have occurred. Then just put the dishwasher back together in reverse steps! Be sure to run an empty cycle to make sure the problem has resolved itself.

What If There Is Still Standing Water After an Empty Cycle?

If you’ve cleaned out the screen and the drainage areas of the appliance and you still have standing water, then you’ve likely got a clog somewhere deeper in the plumbing that connects the dishwasher to the primary drain in the kitchen. Go under your sink and locate the supply line that runs to your dishwasher. Depending on your setup, you may need to shut off the water supply at this point as well. Take a bucket with you and then disconnect the plumbing line that feeds into the main drain.

Allow the water to drain into the bucket or container if any exists within the plumbing. Look for clogs within that pipe – it will generally be at the connection point because the water is able to force its way through to some extent because there are no leaks occurring. If you don’t see a clog, look in the main drainage pipe to see if something is lodged there. If not, you may have a clog somewhere in the middle of the plumbing. Run the snake through the pipe to dislodge it.

Once completed, simply reattach the plumbing and run an empty cycle through the dishwasher once more. Check for leaks, dispose of any drained water, and you’ll have likely fixed your standing water problem. If you still have not been able to resolve the issue, however, then it is time to contact a local plumber.

How To Fix Flickering LED Lights

Investing into LED lights is a great way to save money, but sometimes those lights can cause a few problems. They are expensive to replace every time they flicker and those lights can flicker a lot! The good news is that this issue can often be fixed. Don’t run out to buy a bunch of bulbs because there’s a good chance they’ll all flicker. Take a look at these issues instead to eliminate the flicker once and for all.

Check the Amount of Current In Your Home

The most common reason why LED lights will flicker, especially if it is only an occasional problem, is because there are voltage changes happening within the wiring of the home. This is because there is a current flow in the wiring and the resistance of each wire uses some of the voltage. If you turn on a washing machine while the refrigerator is running and this is when you see a flickering LED light, then there’s a good chance you have loads turning on and off that change the voltage levels and this is causing the flicker.

High Surge Wattage

Many appliances will require more power when they first start than when they are running consistently. This is called surge wattage and the power drain required can cause LED lights to flicker. This is because there is a large drop in voltage in the home. Both problems can be corrected by moving the heavier load items to their own 240 volt circuits. This isn’t always a cheap option, but is often a necessary one because otherwise a voltage load could cause future problems that an insurance policy might not always cover. Even with proper loads, however, LED lights will continue to flicker, but often imperceptibly.

Loose Connections

Another common reason why LED lights flicker is because there is a loose connection within the circuit. Try screwing the light bulb in further to correct the problem. If this does not work, then dust or debris might be interfering with the connection to make it loose. Take a bottle of compressed air and just blow out the connection point to remove dirt. There could also be wiring at the connection point that has worked its way loose over time, which would mean needing to disconnect the power to the circuit and then tighten up the wiring.

Bad Switches

A lot of homes today have dimmer switches and many of these are actually incompatible with the modern LED light bulb. If you do have a dimmer switch, try replacing one or two of your LED bulbs on the circuit with traditional incandescent bulbs or the energy saving ones. This can correct the load issues and stop the flicker. Some issues can be self-corrected, like tightening a light bulb. If you need wiring changes, however, then you may need a professional. You might also need building permits to initiate the repair. Once completed, however, you should be able to stop those LED lights from flickering once and for all.

How To Kill Mold on Drywall

As Winter turns into Spring, many homeowners find themselves with an unpleasant surprise lurking on the drywall around their windows: mold.

Mold can also form in any environment which sees a consistent moisture level.Bathrooms can be mold incubators all year long.

Because you have a much higher risk of developing airway inflammation and infections when mold is present, you’ll want to know how to kill mold on drywall.

The good news is that if you kill the mold right away, you can usually save the drywall.

If the mold has been lingering there for awhile, you might need to replace the contaminated section.

Your best option is to be proactive and create less of a moisture-rich environment by keeping condensation to a minimum and running dehumidifiers in bathrooms or other high risk environments.

If the mold is already there, then you can kill it with these useful options.

1. Use a Bleach/Water Combination.

Using a mixture of 0.5 cup bleach to 1 quart water, take a scrub brush and lightly brush the drywall until all of the signs of mold disappear.

You’ll want to wipe off the surface once it has disappeared, but make sure you don’t rinse the surface. By leaving the bleach on, you’ll be able to kill the spores which may be in the drywall.

Expose the drywall to sunlight if at all possible.

2. Use Borax To Scrub Away The Mold.

Borax has a higher pH than baking soda or vinegar, which makes it the best option for killing mold. You’ll want to use 1 cup of Borax for every gallon of water you use.

Take a vacuum and remove as much freestanding mold as you can.

Then scrub the mold with your Borax solution until the signs of it disappear from the drywall. Wipe away any excess moisture and allow the drywall to then dry.

Don’t rinse off the mixture.

Vinegar is an even safer option, but it only kills about 80% of household molds that may form.

It may be non-toxic, but it may also be ineffective.

If you do use vinegar or baking soda, make sure you leave your preferred cleaner on the mold for several minutes before scrubbing it away to achieve best results.

You’ll then want to apply vinegar on the affected drywall every few days for a couple months to make sure no spores decide they want to grow.

3. Ammonia Can Kill Mold As Well.

Ammonia should be considered an option of last resort if the mold is on your drywall.

It is a rather toxic chemical and it doesn’t absorb into the drywall very well.

Never use ammonia on a wall that you’ve already cleaned with bleach because the combination of these two chemicals creates a gas that is toxic.

Always use clear ammonia if this is the method that you prefer.

4. The Pros And Cons Of Using Hydrogen Peroxide On Mold.

Hydrogen peroxide is about as effective on mold as bleach.

The problem is that it can even cause white paint to fade or alter its color.

Before you clean a wall with this option, you’ll want to spot test a surface that is out of sight to make sure your drywall won’t be affected.

You’ll want a 3% solution that you can apply directly to the mold, so that’s good news because that’s the solution you’ll find at most department stores.

Spray the hydrogen peroxide onto the mold directly and then allow the surface to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Scrub the area to remove the mold and then wipe it down to remove any residual mess.

Repeat as necessary to remove any lingering mold.

5. Sandblasting The Mold Is Another Last Resort Option.

If the mold has penetrated through your drywall and into the studs or wooden wall supports, then you’ll need to cut out the affected drywall.

It will be wet and crumbly and there will be spores of mold that will come out as you are cutting.

Make sure you are wearing breathing protection for this task.

You can apply a bleach solution to wood to remove mold, but that won’t always get rid of all of it.

Sometimes sandblasting wood to remove mold is your best option. This type of work typically requires a general contractor to perform it in most jurisdictions.

You may also be required to apply for a building or remodeling permit in order to complete this task.

It is very effective and creates a safe foundation for your new drywall, but is expensive and labor intensive.

Knowing how to kill mold on drywall can keep you and your family safe from breathing inflammation and infections that mold can cause.

Don’t let your mold just sit there untreated. It will continue to spread and you will experience a higher risk of sickness when it does.

Use these options to kill it off today so that tomorrow your lungs can be much happier.

What Property Owners Need to Know about the ADA

People with disabilities often struggle with everyday activities that most of us take for granted. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was created in 1990 to help make life easier for disabled people.

The ADA applies to rental properties as well, and landlords should be aware of pertinent ADA guidelines. Some of the laws vary depending on when the property was built. Homes, apartment and condos for rent that were built before the ADA took effect (January 26, 1990) have slightly different requirements than those constructed after this date. All landlords should be aware of the ins and outs of the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to stay compliant.

Reasonable Requests for Modifications
At this time, every rental property, regardless of when it was built, allows for disabled tenants to make reasonable requests for accommodations and modifications to the residence related to their disability. Disabled renters may also ask landlords to make changes to the property policies or rules in ways that help to make life easier for them pertaining to their disabilities. An example of such an accommodation might be giving them priority for the most easy-access units, such as those located on the first floor.
Rental property sidewalks, doors, entryways, and hallways must be accessible to disabled persons. Both interior and exterior common areas must also be compliant. However, requests for special elevators, ramps, and financially expensive and difficult to achieve modifications by disabled tenants is not mandatory under the ADA. For example, a tenant’s request for a personal elevator would be considered unreasonable; however, designating a few “disabled only” parking spaces in the parking lot is both fair and financially viable for most landlords.

Properties Built Before the ADA Took Effect
Properties that were already in existence before January 26, 1990, abide by different rules than properties built after this date. The focus is on the public areas of multi-unit properties. These properties are required to remove any obstacles to access by disabled tenants wherever possible and readily feasible; that is, not requiring too much expense or undue difficulty for the landlord.

Properties Built After the ADA Took Effect
Rental properties that were built after ADA regulations went into effect in 1990 must ensure access for disabled persons to designated common areas such as on-site laundry facilities, the rental office, public restrooms, and lounge areas that are meant for residents and their visitors. However, the interiors of rental units are not subject to these requirements.

Financial Responsibility
When it comes to major personal interior modifications of units made by a disabled renter, the cost of these changes and updates must be taken care of by the tenant. They may also have to bear the costs of restoring the unit back to its original state if and when they decide to move out; however, this can be negotiated with the landlord, who may want to keep the modifications to the unit in some cases.

That said, ADA rules state that landlords must pay for the “reasonable accommodations and modifications” made after a request by the tenant. Anything beyond reasonable is the responsibility of the tenant. Again, while a handrail installed in the bathroom and non-slip paint on a porch are reasonable requests of landlords, a brand new elevator or stair lift in the unit would be the tenant’s financial responsibility.