Fair Housing and Modifications

Property Management Blog

The law according to the Act strictly prohibits any form of discrimination whether it is based on sex or color. The Housing and Justice Departments along with Urban Housing work together to ensure that this law is upheld and enforced. Apart from the above-mentioned law, different states have their own housing laws as well. 

A reasonable accommodation is basically tweaking or making an exception to a rule or practice. A reasonable modification, however, is making changes to the actual premises physically. These require special permits from managers but the changes are to be borne by the tenants themselves. According to the Fair Housing Act, it is completely out of question to disallow someone, who can afford to rent out the property, a reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification just because they may be disabled or due to other discriminatory reasons. 

A reasonable accommodation can be to accept a disabled person as your tenant, making wheelchairs easily available on premises and not charging them extra amounts for things they may need due to their disabilities. 

Reasonable modifications can be to install bars in the bathroom for someone who has issues in mobility, or if someone has hearing problems and they want to install a peephole so they can see who is at the door before opening it. Here are some facts regarding the concept of reasonable modification:

  1. If there are any costs that have to be incurred due to changes that are required under any circumstances, those costs are supposed to be covered either by the tenant or someone who is responsible on behalf of the tenant.
  2. Residents can request for a reasonable accommodation if the person is disabled and it is the right of the owner or manager of the property to request any sort of verification for the disability. This is to ensure that there is absolutely no possibility of fraud.
  3. Reasonable modifications can be requested either before or even during the time they are living on the property as tenants. There is not compulsion on the tenant regarding the time frame during which such facilities will be made available to them.
  4. Even though it is the responsibility of the landlord to uphold any such request by the tenant, but the tenant should keep in mind that the request that he or she is making should be reasonable enough so that it can be carried out without any hassle.
  5. If the request is causing any trouble to the manager or property owner, then they can refuse to go ahead with the tenant’s request, however it is important to note that the refusal should be completely unbiased and not caused by any sort of discriminatory reasons.
  6. When they refuse the tenant’s request they are required to send a letter explaining the reasons and facts of doing so and if needed, a meeting should be arranged to clear out any issues.
  7. It is important to note that the owner should not offer to make any reasonable modifications unless the tenant requests for it him or her self. If the owner/manager makes the modification on his own then that may result in a claim that he is discriminating against the tenant.
  8. If the tenant is requesting any sort of reasonable modification from the owner, the request should be in line with the disability her or she may have. The request for modification can not be a random request that will in no way contribute in making things easier for the tenant while he or she is living on the said property.
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