From Our Readers: Who Pays for Reasonable Accommodations Requiring Physical Modifications?
Reader Comment: A colleague and I noticed an apparent inconsistency in the November 2022 issue (“Do Your Rental Fees, Deposits, and Charges Violate Fair Housing Laws?”) regarding the cost of physical modifications to accommodate a tenant’s disability. Under “Charging Fees & Potential Discrimination” (p. 3) it says (paraphrasing the Fair Housing Act) that reasonable physical modifications must be allowed at the expense of the applicant or resident. But example #9 (p. 7) says that charging a “deposit” to a resident to help defray the cost of a physical modification is illegal, and that the landlord must pay all reasonable costs. Although I believe I can explain the intent here, these sentences seem to contradict each other and could serve to confuse some readers.
Eric D. Luskin, CPM®
The Scion Group
Fair Housing Coach Advisory Board
Response: Good catch. Ironically, the article repeats the very same mistake that landlords commonly make when fielding requests for reasonable accommodations—that is, conflating “reasonable accommodations” with “reasonable modifications.”
Correction: Here’s a quick summary of the rules, as explained in HUD guidelines:
Reasonable accommodations are changes, exceptions, or adjustments to a landlord’s current rules, policies, or practices that a person with disabilities needs to get an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, such as exemptions from a no-pets policy for a service animal. Rule: Accommodations must be made at the landlord’s expense without charging the tenant fees or deposits.
Reasonable modifications are structural changes made so that a person with a disability can have full use and enjoyment of the premises, such as installation of grab bars in a bathroom. Rule:
- Under the FHA, landlords must make reasonable modifications at the expense of the person with disabilities; and
- Under Section 504 and the ADA, landlords must make reasonable modifications at their own expense.
Who Pays for Reasonable Accommodations & Modifications
Landlord Must Pay For:
Tenant Must Pay For:
Reasonable modifications under the FHA
See The Lesson For This Quiz
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