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What Renters with Disabilites Need to Know

By law landlords may be required to make reasonable accomodations. But, what does the term reasonable accomodations really mean when a landlord who might rent to someone with a disability? If you have a disability and rent, you have a right to know who to ask for and how you can get assistance to make your home accessible for your needs.

  • The honest answer really opens up Pandora’s Box of more questions and answers than any one can ever expected. Opinions don’t count. But there are laws.containing specific words.  Those words spell out  the “it all depends…” and what is really reasonable is not a one size fits all answer for evey need.

It often takes a team of professionals to evaluate and write a request. Just because some one wants an accomodation or even needs it, does not guarantee a reasonable accomodation will be granted. That can really stink! Plan B or C may need to be initiated.

  • This is post will explore things to consider and is not intended to be legal advice but get you started as you search for answers specific to your needs.
  • This post will share valuable links to resources that renters with disabilites will find helpful to book mark.
  • You do have rights, renters, including not living in fear! If you have a disability you may have more protected rights under the ADA. Example: landlords can not ask certain questions like “why are you in the wheelchair.” As far as a service dog goes, they can only ask what tasks the service dog does for you.

My son’s use of a large wheelchair is obvious need for a wheelchair accessible home. But are the dark glasses due to visual impairment or because it is sunny? Disibalities are not always obvious. Is the dog a pet or a service dog? What questions can a landlord ask legally?

My son and I rent our home.  My son has very obvious disabiities while I have significant disbilities that are not that noticable to most people. I have first hand experience as an old RN working with children with developmental disabilites and I live with the challenges in housing every day. I have some useful information to share.

I  happen to be be pretty good at researching. but not every one is.

Now and then I come accross people with disabilities who have challenges in the rental market and need a quick resource on what they should reasonably expect of their landlord AND WHO TO ASK FOR HELP.. That is why I put together this blog post with some best of the best links I have found on-line,  because it all depends…one size does not fit all disabilities. This post may in general apply to most renters as well.

Disclaimer: Not meant as legal advice, but, for entertaining inspiration to start researching credible sources and seek proper council  your own. ( Closed Facebook pages followers or trolls most likely will not give you the best advice unless they share credible links or the phone number of a good lawyer; bakery, mechanic or …)

 

What  is included in the Fair Housing Act?

JOINT STATEMENT OF
THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
AND THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS  UNDER THE
FAIR HOUSING ACT

5 The Fair Housing Act’s protection against disability discrimination covers not only
home seekers with disabilities but also buyers and renters without disabilities who live or
are associated with individuals with disabilities

https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/huddojstatement.pdf

This apartment building built in the 1970’s does not appear wheelchair accessible due to the steps. Is there another wheelchair accessible entrance? If not, don’t expect the landlord to put in a $2,000 cement ramp. -see post for #disabledrenters #tips

ADA Guidelines for Apartments

  • An apartment complex will have different obligations then the owner of a rented house.
  • A landlord is not required to mind read how to accomodate everyone. You have to ask in writing.
  • Even better get a doctors note to validate the need for the request..

Sometimes, what you need is not a reasonably affordable request.

People with disabilities may need to move to a more accomodating home.

Click and read the links below for what the ADA says about reasonable accomodations in an apartment building.

..and if you need a wheelchair ramp built…who will pay for it?

Don’t expect any landlord to be singing Halleluia about paying out maybe $2,000 for a cement ramp to he entrance of an apmartent complex built in 1940 just because you want it

The management may like you, personally and  really want you as a resident. But, unless they plan on renting to a whole community who needs a  ramp it is not cost effective for them…not personal…not discrimination, either… it is simply NOT REASONABLE!

Please don’t go whining to the NEWS how unfair it is until you have read the ADA laws.

(Note: there may be local grants to apply for.)

…In rental dwellings, ADA guidelines for apartment complexes differ based on the community’s date of construction. Apartments built before ADA rules took effect fall under slightly different guidelines than do those built after the regulations were created….

…Disabled tenants can also request landlords to make changes to rules or policies to accommodate their disabilities. Accommodations include moving disabled tenants to the top of the waiting list for easier-to-access apartments….

,,, sidewalks need to be ADA compliant, as do doors and entryways, hallways and exterior and interior areas used by the public. Ramps, elevators and other possibly difficult or financially significant installations for disabled residents to access their apartments isn’t usually mandatory under ADA

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/ada-guidelines-apartments-61157.html

 

More Articles

. Accessible apartments are far less common than traditional apartments, so disabled renters have fewer choices on accommodations that suit their special needs.

Who will do Maintenance on the property you rent?

Know the answers BEFORE you sign the lease.

  • Who will shovel snow?
  • Who will replace light bulbs in the common hall way?
  • Who to call in a maintanence emergency?

If the management fails on their part to meet certain standard you should have some legal recourse.

( Another section) On the other hand if YOU fail, the landlord has legal rights as well no matter if you are disabled or not.

The link below gives you a basic guidleline check list.

Apartment Maintenance Checklist

Proper apartment maintenance prevents unnecessary expenses for apartment leasing companies and property tenants.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/apartment-maintenance-checklist-8218.html

Leak in the ceiling near an electrical light should be repaired asap by apartment maintenance. But what if the repair is not made? #renter #landlordissues #disabledrenter

What if your landlord fails in their obligation to keep things fixed for safety and sanitation?

No matter who you are or where you live a lease is a legal and binding contract. You sign a contract agreeing to x amount of pay to rent on the owner’s  property for a place to live by a certain day of each month . Both parties have a legal obligation to do what they promised to do on that lease.

If you mess up, the landlord can give you a 3 day notice to quit simply meaning you have 3 days to fix the problem of they take further legal action against you. https://www.landlordguidance.com/eviction-notice-forms/colorado-eviction/

 

  • Ignorance of the rules is NO EXCUSE.
  • Screaming and yelling at the office manager is always a NO-NO!
  • Playing the BOO HOO I’m DISABLED CARD and threaten to sue or call your Mafia cousins does cut it either. If you can not up hold on your obigations as tennant, I encourage you to accept the fact that you may need to make other living arrangements or get proper help. (read suggestion below)
  • On the other side of the rental fence the landlord has a responcibility to provide a safe building you pay rent for  to live in.

YES, state your concerns in writing, but be sure our complaints are honest and communicate civily and appropriately.

If you need help, and have a  social worker you may ask them who can help you fill ot forms. Some of my neighbors have asked their local church group to volunteer a few hours to take photos to your records and deliver a maintanence request for you to document/ witness all concerns.

No support system?

Call your county’s 411 or local library. They have books of community resources and will look them up for you if needed.

What IF my landlord doesn’t fix when they should?

Related Articles from SFGATE

 

Who to Tell When Someone Done Somebody Wrong?

 

The United States Department of Justice

Disability Rights Section

The Disability Rights Section works to achieve equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the United States by implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). … The Section’s enforcement, certification, regulatory, coordination, and technical assistance activities, required by the ADA, combined with an innovative mediation program and a technical assistance grant program, provide a cost-effective and dynamic approach for carrying out the ADA’s mandates.

CONTACT information on this page

https://www.justice.gov/crt/disability-rights-section

 Need to File a Discrimination Complaint Against DOJ Employee or Organization?

https://www.justice.gov/actioncenter/submit-complaint

 

What is you still want to rent but the landlord tell you that you need to get someone to help you keep your apartment more clean?

You may qualify for some help to come in to do your dishes, carry out the trash and help you shower. 

Home & Community-Based Services 1915 (c) Medicaid

States can offer a variety of unlimited services under an HCBS Waiver program. Programs can provide a combination of standard medical services and non-medical services.

https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/hcbs/authorities/1915-c/index.html

Sample Application Form for the HCBS waiver is 125 page pdf if you care to read it in details.

https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid-chip-program-information/by-topics/waivers/downloads/hcbs-waivers-application.pdf

 

  • For those who want to continue living in their own home, but need help with grocery shopping; housekeeping, personal  and some medical cares and qualify for MEDICAID, click the link right above to get started to learn what programs are in your state.

On a personal note: my son and I live in Colorado. He qualifies for the *CDASS program because he is eligble to get Medicaid. The acronyms will vary from state to state. The case workers who handles Food Stamps or Medicaid applications should be able to direct you to the Medicaid program in your state.

*Client Directed Care where the disabled can hire and fire their own care-givers. The care-givers are paid under this Medicaid program provided the tasks and employees meet all quidlelines to qualify. I get some financial compenastion for caring for my son, along with help from those who come in for a few hours outside. The income I get helps me to pay some of our rent for a wheelchair accessible safe place to live…not cheap when we together don’t quaify for rental assistance.. Locating an affordable wheelchair accessible home to rent near medical care is not easy  in mountainous Colorado.

 

SERVICE ANIMALS

We have a courtyard and a small patio for David and Amber his Service-Dog-in-Trainng. Meet our new neighbors included educating and setting boundaries taht Amber is not a pet to play with.. It takes extra work for Amber to learn how to navigate around a power wheelchair safely. Frst she must bond and build trust with her owner and IGNORE every one else..

When I go on local groups on Facebook I often find people complaining about their landlord won’t let them have their service animal.

I  will copy and paste a few inks to either help them or chew them out for trying to fake a service dog. I know that too many people think they can put a vest on a beloved pet or guard dog and  try to claim it is a service dog they don’t have to pay pet deposits. Then they get mad at landlord for giving them 3 days notice to quit because the dog is tied up  on the balcony and barking 24/7.

I have previously published my own opinions and photos of my son’s service dog on this blog along with tips; and informative official links The clickable links to my service dog posts are below. BUT…my opinion is not the final legal ruling, so I added the link right below for the OFFICIAL FINAL RULINGS on SERVICE ANIMALS.

BTW; A service Animal is limited to a dog or small horse who is specifically trained to do related tasks tasks for a person with a disability.

HUD’s
regulations governing the requirements for pet ownership in HUD-assisted public housing and multifamily housing projects for the elderly and persons with
disabilities.

https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/Pet_Ownership_Final_Rule.pdf

 

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

When living with a disability and looking for housing a number of accomodation must be considered before signing a lease-beside “is there a grab bar in the bathtub?”

For my son who depends on a wheelchair for moblity we have to consider if he can access  public transportation that a large wheelchair can get on and off or we look else where to live before we sign a lease. It would not be reasonable to move a wheelcir hair dependant adult into an apartment then complain to city that there is no way to get him to the doctor so they had better make a city bus route in front of our door. You SHOULD have checked out transportation before hand.

( Why don’t I get a wheelchair van for my son? I don’t see well enough to drive any more…I can;t pass a vision test. We use various form of public transporatio including a  wheelchair accessible taxi)

Personal Example: Until he was about 30 my son, was capable of walking . But after he was diagnosed with MS he suddenly lost the use of his legs and his vision. This would be a valid medical reason to request to legally break the lease if he were on the 5th floor and there was no elevator- as an example.

(Get the advice of a lawyer and a note from your doctor  and most landlords don’t rasie a stink. If they do, they may be breaking the law.)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Coordination and Review Section

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities that are like those provided to individuals on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq9805.html

 

 

Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act

This section applies to employment and work sites for persons with disabilities not housing, but I think it is well worth the read.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities….

https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-ada.cfm

Know When to Get Legal Advice

Many cities have FREE legal centers for those who are low income. If you don’t qualify, those centers often will refer you to other legal resources. it won;t hurt to call and ask.

To find free or very affordable legal help you can call 411 or your local library.

or

consider a pre-paid legal membership liek I have. ( Not meant to be advertisement. Just an idea.)

Legal Shield

Personally, my son and I are Legal Shield members who have used our benefits to call attorneys at Legal Shield to ask if we had reasons to complain or not or various issues. In hte past, as an example I read and re- read our lease, when we have neighobrs who played loud music at 3 am and dropped little plastic baggies from the upstair windows to people who were texting cells phones inches away from my window. ( Notify management…no appropriate action by management.)

Then I Google and read some more just to reafirm my right to PEACEFUL HABITATION or “Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment”..

Before we moved this year to a safer place I had concerns abotut missing fire extinguishers; emergency lights in the hallsthat  had not worked in 2 years; the exit signs had  no lights; the door to out side taht wasthe ONLY wheelchair exit was often so broken he could not open it…my safety violation list is very long  before I even got started on ADA violations.  My request for a safety rail as a reasonal accomodation for myself -as well as every one else who had to use an alernate exit was denied ot of retaliation for me calling CODE enforcement over the above safety issues. Relatiation is againt the law.

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I  already know when my landlord needs to get a move on to fix a problem before I call an attorney. I call for help to DOCUMENT

( Documenting is often something many renters fail to do, but should).  Because I know when to call for legal advice and I’m a Legal Shield member one of the attorenys have written a more than a few strongly worded letters that helped us to legally break a lease or  two. These strongly worded letters are send Resgistsered/ Return Receipt mail/ they have to sing for the letter.

I now get a perk when I get new Legal Shield members signed up under my name. Regradless or whether or not you get a membership under my name or not, I highly recommend everyone having an affordable  Legal Shield membership or another pre-paid legal plan of your choice.

How Murphy’s Law Got me to Start a New Business of Selling Pre-paid Legal Memberships

When is a Dog a Service Dog OR an Excuse?

Before You Buy the Take Your Dog Anywhere Card Read this First

Preparing for Public Debute: Amber Service-Dog-in-Training

 

 

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