POSTED ON Nov 12, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Real Property Associates

Home Rentals, Seattle Renters, and Reasonable Accommodation

If you own and operate home rentals, Seattle investors, it’s your responsibility to make sure that all of your renters are well-cared for, regardless of their needs—and this includes people with disabilities.

For instance, if someone in a wheelchair rolled into your rental office (if you have one) looking for a place to stay, would they have trouble moving around, and would you have to turn them away?

There are more people with disabilities than you would think! Sure, you’ve seen some ramps in a few places, and you may even have thought about using accessible parking when your favorite mall is packed, but have you thought about what might happen if residents with disabilities knocked on your door? If the answer is no, then you need to read the following.

Please note: This article is not legal advice. For up-to-date information and guidance, reach out to your attorney or Real Property Associates.

Woman holding on handrail in toilet

Reasonable Accommodation Demystified

When the word 'reasonable' comes to mind, we think of fairness and justice; we imagine something satisfactory and agreeable to someone. When we speak of accommodation, we’re not only referring to habitation or lodging; we are, in fact, talking about adaptations or adjustments made to such a habitation

While it’s great to do everything it takes to make a high-quality renter happy, don’t consider this a favor; look at it as a necessary investment in your single-family homes or multi-family units. Depending on the location of your property and the nature of the renter’s request, you may be compelled to cover the costs for such changes. That’s why it’s important for you to know where you stand in so far as rights and responsibilities are concerned.

For small alterations like adding grab bars onto a bathtub, the property owner usually foots the bill. However, when your renter decides to move on somewhere else, you might have to ask them to remove these fittings themselves. 

To Whom It May Concern

People with disabilities are just as entitled to comfort and safety as anyone else. If you have such a resident calling your property home, the law dictates that they should ask you to make the changes they need. 

Whether they need a doorway to be a little wider, a countertop to be a little lower, or even if there’s a need for a chairlift, it would benefit you as someone who owns home rentals, Seattle investors, to run these changes by your property management team.

The last thing you want is a lawsuit on your hands over an unsafe building—but there are also limitations to the expense that property owners need to cover.

Young woman in wheelchair working with a male colleague

Get Professional Help

Property management in Seattle is hard enough without trying to figure out where you stand—legally and otherwise—when it comes to reasonable accommodation. As you can see, this is a very nuanced subject, and if you’re not careful, you can easily make mistakes that could be costly for you as the property owner!

The best way to guarantee the best outcome is to work with a property management company in Seattle, like Real Property Associates. We can help you to streamline your operations and deal with all of the details on your behalf that come with the territory of owning rental property in the Seattle area.

How It’s Done

How do the professionals handle reasonable accommodation requests? The first thing we do is rely on years of experience, coupled with an excellent attorney. However, if you lack both, you can consider the following tips below.

Use a Case-by-Case Basis

First things first, you have to look at each and every case to see if the change is necessary. Don't start spending money and doing renovations if there's no need for them. Certain forms of access that present an undue hardship to a property owner don't necessarily have to be fulfilled—but knowing what these are is crucial.

No Deadlines

If you decide that the modifications are not necessary, you can’t just reject the request outright. It's time to bring in professional property management services to help you with your home rentals, Seattle investors, if you find yourself between a rock and a hard place.

See if you can come to an agreement in a way that's pleasing to both parties. Don’t be quick to dismiss, and remember that you’re dealing with someone who deserves due process just like anyone else. If you decide to dismiss a request without having a one-on-one with the renter, the law might catch up to you. 

Also, don’t do anything that comes across as prejudiced. This is someone you might have to deal with for a long time, so it helps to be polite, diplomatic, and patient at every turn. Renter relationships matter

No Place Like Home

People with disabilities don’t like to be treated differently—to be honest, nobody does. Most of us want to live our lives without being constantly reminded of the challenges we face. This is where reasonable accommodation comes in. 

Obstacles force us to confront our abilities, and with reasonable accommodation making things a little smoother, your renter will come to realize who they truly are; a talented and capable individual. In the process, you'll cultivate a positive reputation as a Seattle property owner, which could help you attract future renters.

Of course, nothing beats having an experienced property manager to help you through the process. If you need help finding one, download our Guide to Finding the Best Property Management Company in Seattle!

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