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Renters Warehouse BW Metro | May 13, 2021

An Annapolis Property Management Guide to Reasonable Accommodation for Renters

Most people don't see themselves as capable of discrimination, bias, or stereotyping. As a rental property owner in Annapolis, even unintentional discrimination can lead to lawsuits and difficult renter situations. Sometimes, the experiences in our lives can put us in a position where we unconsciously show preference to certain people. 

The Fair Housing Act helps property owners avoid discrimination. From screening renters to residents that request a reasonable accommodation, rental property owners must respond appropriately and apply the right processes to prevent discrimination claims.

How should you handle renters with documented disabilities that share their needs and enter a dialogue with you to make a rental work for them? There's no need to fear this process out of uncertainty! Follow these tips from our expert Annapolis property management team to do a great job during the reasonable accommodation process! Expert property management insights may win you the loyalty of a renter for the long term and boost your profit!

Handicap parking space

Understanding Reasonable Accommodation

When a renter with a protected disability that impairs their ability to perform a major life activity is interested in your property, they can request reasonable accommodations to make a living in your rental an option for them. This could include requesting that you

  • Waive certain rules
  • Make modifications to the property
  • Accommodate other changes that make it safer and more comfortable for them to live in your Annapolis rental 

Legally, the property owner will then enter into a dialogue with the potential renter, determining how to make the modifications and what kinds of costs would be associated with making those changes.

Make Sure It's Reasonable

Annapolis real estate investors must respond to "reasonable" requests, but you also have the opportunity to make the request is reasonable before taking on a major construction project. 

Key elements that make an accommodation reasonable include:

  • Changes won't cause undue hardship or risk the safety of others
  • that the accommodation must be related to the disability 

If someone requests a larger parking space for wheelchair access, they would need to use a wheelchair to have that accommodation be reasonable. While this may seem simple, the key is to evaluate how to most effectively offer the needed comfort and safety while not putting too harsh of a burden on the property owner. 

If the rental applicant requests a particular kind of ramp be installed to their doorway, and there is an equally safe and functional one for cheaper, work with the requestor to compromise on a mid-range ramp. Consulting with your Annapolis property management professional can help you determine "reasonable" requests and how to work with residents and potential renters to accommodate needs. 

Bridge for wheelchair users

Making Rentals a Discrimination-Free Space

While many property owners may think proactively offering the reasonable accommodation process to someone with a visible impairment is the kind thing to do, it's actually illegal. Instead of offering accommodation for a perceived disability (and risking a lawsuit), create a part of your rental application that all applicants fill out that helps to prompt or offer the opportunity when needed. 

However, be careful that the application doesn't appear to combine disability inquiries with an attempt to qualify someone with a disability as part of your renter criteria. If you offer units that are either prioritized for those with disabilities or exclusively for those with disabilities, you can ask all rental applicants if they qualify based on the rules or qualifications that have been clearly set out. Partnering with the right Annapolis property management company can help you navigate these tricky legal details to serve renters well and follow the law!

There are quite a lot of Fair Housing and anti-discrimination rules to follow, but learning the rules that apply to your particular rental property really benefits you in the long run. By firmly having the law on your side, you get to offer common-sense value and assistance to renters, even if they don't have a documented disability. You also have the law on your side to hold firm if a renter asks for something that isn't legally protected and would cause you a lot of trouble or expense. Knowing the law well enables this valuable flexibility and high-quality customer service.

Learn More Through Experienced Annapolis Property Managers

Getting to know how the laws that protect disabled renters apply to you can take some time! The best way to stay informed and follow the law is with the help of an Annapolis property management company. It's our business to know the law to advise you on how to structure your rental application process. 

Renters Warehouse BW Metro can help you get a valuable gut check on whether an accommodation meets a reasonable standard. If you need it, we can also help you find and talk with an attorney who can assist with strong, clear communication with potential renters. Satisfied renters get what they need to be safe and comfortable, and you can confidently make decisions yourself. To learn more about how property management is an asset for a property owner, download our guide today!

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