I know it is illegal to discriminate against disabled folks. But one question - if we accept a disabled person (which I'm glad to do) does this implicitly mean by law we have to prep the property to be wheelchair accessible and other physical modifications to the property? Any tips on what we might need to do both morally and legally to have the property be a good one for them? Thanks.
By law, the tenant is required to make the changes and is required by law to return the property to its original condition if you want. There are exceptions to this though. Most people think of a wheelchair bound person. If a person is sight impaired, the landlord is required to make certain changes at their own expense. If a person is wheelchair bound, it is their responsibility (and money) to make alterations.
You are obligated to very little other than if they request modifications you can approve them at the tenants expense and they must be willing to put the property back to it's original state when they move out. You are obligated to approve any modifications that are not considered structural, meaning that you don't have to approve of them changing the size of doorways.
@Jon Quigley The better way to think about this and to talk about this subject is... Making accommodations for people with disabilities...
There is a difference between making an accommodation for a person with a disability upon request vs. making a unit accessible to ADA standards and marketing it as such. Universal design is something to look into if you are building new units, as that way they will appeal to both people with disabilities and people without, or as I like to say... those who are temporarily able bodied.
The person with the disability will be the one who knows best which type of property would best match their needs. If they need anything beyond that, it is their responsibility to ask. Landlords must allow for reasonable accommodations. This may mean allowing an exception to a policy or it may mean letting the tenant modify the home to meet their needs. Some modifications are good for anybody. So sometimes we don't require the tenant to reverse the modification back to the original way it was. But we can if we want to and it would be at the tenant's expense. We often do modifications for tenants, whether they have a qualified disability or not, such as putting in chair height toilets for tenants who are elderly or modifying a sidewalk to make it easier to traverse.
Be careful during the screening process not to say the wrong thing or to say something that can have a chilling effect. Read up on Fair Housing Law so you don't accidentally discriminate against a protected class.
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