Reasonable Rental Accommodations
The Fair Housing Act clearly outlaws any discrimination based on a handicap. The landlord of a rental property must make sure that reasonable accommodations are available for anyone who needs them. The handicap can belong to the renter, a person living with the renter, or any person associated with the renter who may need to access the property. As a landlord, it’s important to recognize that a tenant can claim discrimination if you refuse or neglect to make reasonable modifications to the rental property.
Potential renters can also include assistance animals, including those used for emotional support, in their request for reasonable accommodations. To qualify for this accommodation, the animal must assist the disabled person in a clear way that makes it possible to live more effectively on the property. These assistance animals do not have to be certified, licensed, or trained in any specific type of program. The landlord can only ask for documentation of the disability if that handicap or need for an assistance animal is not clear or already known.
Of course, these proposed property modifications or requests for assistance animals should be discussed with renters before the lease is signed. Any modifications you intend to make to the property need to be clearly stated in the lease. In the case of an assistance animal, the rental agreement needs to hold the renter responsible for any damage caused by the assistance animal. We recommend that, as a landlord about to offer a tenant a rental agreement, you first consult an experienced attorney who can help make sure you are in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.