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  1. #1
    Mhami Guest

    Renting to a Disabled Person

    In Northern California, we have a very old house that we rent out on a month to month agreement. There are two current tenants. One is leaving, but the other wants to stay and bring in a new roommate. This new person is disabled and uses a wheel chair. His only source of income is from State Disablity.

    The house is not set up at all for a disabled person. It has several steps leading to the house. The tenants have already informed us that they want a ramp leading up to the door. We are willing to put in a ramp, but where does it stop? What will he want altered next?

    Since we have not officially approved the new tenant, can we still decide not to rent to the new tenant? Would that be discrimination? We asked to do a credit check on him, and have not yet received his application. I feel like we are being put into a position that we have to rent to this person and make the alterations just because he is disabled. Can we make a special agreement stating that we agree to the ramp, but no other alterations to the premises will be allowed?

    Thanks, Marianne

    FYI, I have read section 54.1, but would like some extra input.

    (2) "Housing accommodations" means any real property, or portion
    thereof, that is used or occupied, or is intended, arranged, or
    designed to be used or occupied, as the home, residence, or sleeping
    place of one or more human beings, but shall not include any
    accommodations included within subdivision (a) or any single-family
    residence the occupants of which rent, lease, or furnish for
    compensation not more than one room therein.
    (3) (A) Any person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real
    property for compensation shall not refuse to permit an individual
    with a disability, at that person's expense, to make reasonable
    modifications of the existing rented premises if the modifications
    are necessary to afford the person full enjoyment of the premises.
    However, any modifications under this paragraph may be conditioned on
    the disabled tenant entering into an agreement to restore the
    interior of the premises to the condition existing prior to the
    modifications. No additional security may be required on account of
    an election to make modifications to the rented premises under this
    paragraph, but the lessor and tenant may negotiate, as part of the
    agreement to restore the premises, a provision requiring the disabled
    tenant to pay an amount into an escrow account, not to exceed a
    reasonable estimate of the cost of restoring the premises.
    (B) Any person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real
    property for compensation shall not refuse to make reasonable
    accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when those
    accommodations may be necessary to afford individuals with a
    disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises.

  2. #2
    lildevil719 Guest

    Exclamation Renting to a disabled person

    First of all, I just have to let you know that the PC way to say that is renting to a person who has a disability. Otherwise you are inferring that the person is defined by the disability rather than the disability being defined by the person. I worked for an agency in California that provided Independent Living services to persons with disabilities, meaning we helped them find apartments, helped with budgeting, things like that.

    Now, here is one thing that could potentially solve your entire dilemma, but you need to check into it just in case. If the unit is not handicap accessible, look into the modifiacations that would have to be made. If the house is as old as you say, it might damage the structural integrity of the house to make those modifications needed for this person to enjoy the warranty of habitability. I would check into that before you do anything else.

    good luck, and if you have more questions, please post them, and I will try to help.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Catatonic State
    Hi Marianne,
    if the person's income pays for his share of the rent then he is a qualified tenant as far as income.
    Depending on his credit, you could approve or deny his application, but it would be very risky if you deny based on mediocre credit;
    because there is not a very clear line between good credit and bad credit, and any rejection of the applicant may be construed as discrimination.
    A safer way would be to check the applicants references and rental history. If the applicants' previous landlords state that he never pays his rent on time and does not follow House Rules, then you are better protected from a discrimination filing if you choose not to rent to this person.

    You may be skating on thin ice if you only agree to put in the ramp. What if the wheelchair does not fit through every passage door property, are the electrical outlets the correct level, are the sinks the property height, is there enough clearance the toilet, the shower/tub, counter height etc.
    The law states that L can do the required renovation or T can at their cost. whatever work is needed, L cannot refuse to allow T to do, and T must agree to restore the premises to the original condition upon termination of the tenancy.
    Plese be aware that a lot of older homes are not ADA compliant.
    I suggest you contact your local L/T office and HUD.
    Section 54.1 is only the referenced State law and there may be applicable Federal laws such as Fair Housing and ADA that you should be aware of.

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