COACH’s Pop Quiz!

Q: A few years ago, a resident filed a disability discrimination complaint in a dispute about assigned parking, but you settled the case by assigning her a parking space as a reasonable accommodation. Over the past six months, she paid her rent late or made only partial payments, and then stopped paying at all. She’s ignored your repeated warnings, but you can’t evict her because she’s disabled. True or false?

A: False. Fair housing law bans discrimination against individuals with disabilities, but that doesn’t mean that you must put up with a resident who doesn’t pay her rent or commits some other lease violation. But before initiating eviction proceedings, it’s a good idea to get legal advice in case she responds by accusing you of discrimination or retaliation. Because her fair housing claim was resolved years ago, it would be difficult for her to prove a connection between her prior complaint and any current plans to evict her for nonpayment of rent—as long as you have the records to prove it and you enforced your payment rules consistently. And you should be able to fend off any claim of disability discrimination. Even though she hasn’t asked for a reasonable accommodation, it’s unlikely that a request to forgo rent for an extended period would be considered reasonable. 

For more guidance on this topic, see the Coach’s April 2014 lesson, “Avoiding Fair Housing Problems During Evictions and Nonrenewals,” available to subscribers here.