Within the property management industry, it is imperative to understand and appropriately handle requests for reasonable accommodations. This is especially true for individuals with disabilities who are exercising their legal rights. Whether it’s a tenant seeking rent reminders due to mental disabilities, requesting reserved accessible parking for mobility-related challenges, or making other reasonable demands to facilitate living arrangements, landlords and property managers must navigate these situations carefully. One common and legally mandated accommodation request pertains to service animals, companion animals, or emotional support animals (ESAs).
Assistance Animals Request
The solicitation of an ESA is a valid request from a tenant. Even in properties with a strict “no pet” policy, once the animal is verified property managers are obligated to approve the request. This is because individuals with disabilities are protected under Fair Housing laws. Whereas regular pet owners do not fall under a protected class. Additionally, property managers cannot impose additional fees, rents, or deposits on tenants making emotional support animal requests. However, they do remain accountable for any damages caused by their animals.
Reasonable Modifications to A Property Request
Beyond accommodation requests, individuals with disabilities have the right to request reasonable modifications to the physical property itself. Different from accommodations, modifications involve actual changes to the property rather than adjustments to the rules of the property. Property managers are required to allow all reasonable modifications, with the tenant being responsible to:
- Finance the modification.
- Ensure compliance with city codes and property standards.
- Restore the property to its original condition upon departure.
For instance, a tenant may request a modification to add a wheelchair ramp to a property. When doing so, once installed, the ramp must adhere to city code and be structurally sound.
When confronted with requests for reasonable accommodations or modifications, property managers should streamline the process. This can easily be done by having tenants fill out a formal request form. Once the completed form has been reviewed, approvals can be made ensuring all legal requirements are met by both the tenant and landlord.
Dealing with Assistance Animal Requests:
While property owners are entitled to have a “no pet” policy or charge fees and deposits for pets, this does not apply to service animals, companion animals, comfort animals, or emotional support animals. They must promptly process requests for these types of animals. Fair Housing laws dictate that such requests be accepted once they have been verified. Once approved, property managers are prohibited from charging fees or deposits for assistance animals.
Understanding and navigating reasonable accommodation requests is essential to effective property management. Property managers and rental housing operators, play a vital role in fostering inclusive housing environments that uphold the rights of individuals with disabilities. Property managers contribute to an honest and accessible housing market for everyone by adhering to Fair Housing laws and promptly processing requests for reasonable accommodations and modifications.
If you would like to work with a professional property management company that is experienced in handling reasonable accommodation requests, contact us here at Envy Property Management to discuss your needs.