When it comes to providing safe housing for your renters, there are laws and stipulations that you must abide by as a property owner. Your tenants have a right to reasonable accommodations for the disabled under the Fair Housing Act. Hence, because you're liable for unsafe living conditions, knowing the housing codes and laws in your area can help mitigate your exposure to lawsuits. Here are a few points about making accommodations for the disabled, and how a Barrier Islands property management company can help.

Know Your Responsibilities as a Property Owner

Depending on the particular local and state housing codes in your area, you have responsibilities as a property owner. Providing safe housing and reasonable accommodations can increase your renters' confidence. It's helpful as you build and scale your property management business. 

To help accommodate your disabled renters, work with them on solutions that don't require a significant financial investment. Aside from handling all repairs and requests promptly, you also have maintenance responsibilities as an owner. 

These include: 

  • Complying with housing rules in our neighborhood for sewage removal, illegal activity, pest control, fire safety, noise nuisances, etc.
  • Keeping the rental property structures intact 
  • Keeping the plumbing and electrical working
  • Keeping all common areas clean and safe (including stairwells, laundry room, elevators, lobby, etc.)

Because you must ensure your properties are current and compliant with all applicable laws, always maintain insurance. It might include a property owner's policy. Or, you might combine a business owner's policy (BOP), general liability, workers compensation, cyber insurance, and property insurance. 

Male hands on wooden table with paper cut family and house model

Know Your Renters' Rights

A concern when managing a rental property is that potential renters want modern homes with lots of amenities. They also want impeccably kept grounds and to live in the safest communities. Especially in light of Covid-19, renters want reassurances that their homes are clean and well-maintained. Your renters should have unobstructed stairways, well-lit and functioning elevators, and safe and clean common areas.

Additionally, you must make certain accommodations for the disabled to help meet their particular needs. Your accommodations might include wheelchair ramps, widened walkways, low-pile carpeting, ADA-compliant building signage, and bathroom railings (when applicable). There are legal actions your renters can take against you. Hence, you must maintain the property and grounds and provide amenities for the disabled. 

These include:

  • If the owner fails to make repairs or make the property accessible for the disabled, renters might withhold rent.
  • In some instances, renters might make repairs themselves and deduct the amount from their rent money.
  • They may file complaints with a local or state building or health inspector. It can lead to fines against the owner.
  • If a property owner doesn't make repairs, the Housing Authority can impose fines. They might also condemn the property depending on the conditions. Renters can sue the owner for unsafe housing.
  • In some instances, the owner may face criminal charges for unsafe housing if the property is vulnerable to crime. 
  • The owner might face fines for not having bars on windows, adequate lighting in elevators, stairs, and common areas, fire escape access, functioning windows, and deadbolt locks.
  • The renters may sue the owner for repairs, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Examples might include if there's mold damage, rat infestations, or bedbugs.  
  • Renters may move out without giving proper notice if the housing is unsafe or unlivable. In multi-unit buildings, renters may petition the court and have complaint letters signed by other renters. It is sometimes the case in dangerous public housing conditions.

White paper cut family and house model on wooden table with blurred people at background, life and house insurance

How a Barrier Islands Property Management Company Can Help

Every property owner wants a positive cash flow. Hence, they need to mitigate their risks by ensuring safe housing for all their residents. Whether you have single-family housing, multi-unit buildings, or another property type, the best way to avoid renter complaints is to hire a property manager. Property managers can help you outline your responsibilities as an owner to provide reasonable accommodations. It can help to ensure you do not violate your lease agreements. Hence, your property owner can help you follow the law while caring for renters with disabilities. This can reduce the risk of a lawsuit or fine. 

Your property manager can also promote your listings. They can showcase how your property is accessible for the disabled and highlight the best features to make your property more desirable. They can even upsell the amenities in your listings. Property managers have responsive maintenance staff ready to make all repairs and handle all maintenance issues that arise. They're also there to respond to your renters' requests and complaints. Hence, your property management company can protect you from liability. 

Property managers help with a lot more too! Read more about what they do. 

Provide the Best and Safest Renter Experiences

Ultimately, it's the property owner's responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations and a safe housing atmosphere. However, as you purchase more rental properties, making repairs and responding to renter requests can become time-consuming. Consider hiring a Barrier Islands property management team. With a professional maintenance staff and legal advisors available, they can help meet the needs of your renters while mitigating your financial risks. For more information, download The Guide to Finding the Best Barrier Islands Property Management Company.

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