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What should landlords know about ADA compliance?

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2023 | Real Estate Law |

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in various public and private settings. The ADA primarily targets businesses and public spaces, but residential landlords should also know how this law impacts them. Landlords need to understand the basics of ADA compliance regarding housing.

Even if a residential complex doesn’t fall directly under the ADA, landlords might need to comply with similar provisions under the Fair Housing Act. This law ensures that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling. 

Service and emotional support animals 

There’s often confusion around the roles and rights of service and emotional support animals in rental properties. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities, whereas emotional support animals provide therapeutic benefits. 

Under the FHA, both types of animals are generally allowed in residential rental properties as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability. Landlords must know that they can’t charge a pet fee for these animals, but the tenant is responsible for any damage the animal may cause.

Reasonable modifications are part of the deal 

Another critical point for landlords to understand is the concept of reasonable modifications. These are structural changes made to existing premises, occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability. 

Under the FHA, landlords must permit these modifications for the individual to use and enjoy the dwelling fully. Examples include installing grab bars in the bathroom or ramps for wheelchair access. While the tenant usually pays for these modifications, the landlord can’t refuse them if they are essential for the tenant’s well-being.

Awareness of these aspects is essential for residential landlords to navigate the complex landscape of ADA compliance and similar mandates under the FHA. Having someone on your side who can help you understand exactly what you need to do is critical.