Rental Services, Inc. December Newsletter

Welcome to the December Rental Services, Inc. newsletter! This month we will highlight landlords that were sued by their tenants and some helpful information to help avoid that situation. A discussion about my favorite subject bacon and a legal update for clients with property in Washington.

Reasonable Accommodation

Recently a landlord in Las Vegas, Nevada came to an agreement with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to settle a Fair Housing claim.

The Silver Creek Apartments managed by Stout Management Company agreed to pay $6,000 and write off $1,392 in back rent to a disabled couple that had rented a second-floor apartment.

The tenants were promised they could transfer to a first-floor apartment when one came available. Over a seven-year period the couple repeatedly asked to transfer to a first-floor apartment. The disabled couple was denied a transfer as they watched new tenants move-in and occupy first floor apartments.

Eventually the housing manager approved the transfer to a first-floor apartment. The move required the disabled couple to pay a $700 move-in fee and an additional $400 deposit. The disabled couple couldn’t afford to pay the additional fees and decided to move out of the property.

Shortly after moving they filed a Fair Housing claim with HUD. The claim was based on reasonable accommodation.

The definition of reasonable accommodation directly from the website.

A reasonable accommodation is a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use spaces, or to fulfill their program obligations. Please note that the ADA often refers to these types of accommodations as “modifications.”
Any change in the way things are customarily done that enables a person with disabilities to enjoy housing opportunities or to meet program requirements is a reasonable accommodation. In other words, reasonable accommodations eliminate barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from fully participating in housing opportunities, including both private housing and in federally-assisted programs or activities. Housing providers may not require persons with disabilities to pay extra fees or deposits or place any other special conditions or requirements as a condition of receiving a reasonable accommodation.
Since rules, policies, practices, and services may have a different effect on persons with disabilities than on other persons, treating persons with disabilities exactly the same as others will sometimes deny persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy a dwelling or participate in the program. Not all persons with disabilities will have a need to request a reasonable accommodation. However, all persons with disabilities have a right to request or be provided a reasonable accommodation at any time.
Under Section 504 and the ADA, public housing agencies, other federally-assisted housing providers, and state or local government entities are required to provide and pay for structural modifications as reasonable accommodations/modifications.

Based on the definition of reasonable accommodation the fees to transfer should have been waived. If the housing manager would have waived the fees and transferred the couple this complaint may not have been filed with HUD.

Another case in Los Angeles, California, a private landlord settled a fair housing claim with HUD. In this settlement the landlord must pay the tenant $8,500.

The private landlord had a no pet policy. When the tenant was found with an emotional support dog the landlord threatened to evict the tenant. The tenant filed a complaint with HUD based on a reasonable accommodation.

An emotional support animal is not a pet and if the landlord would have made a reasonable accommodation, they could have saved $8,500.

In both settlements, along with the financial costs to the property owners, managers and staff must attend fair housing training, and update policy and procedures to address reasonable accommodations.

Delicious Bacon

Recently I read an article by Paul R. Bergeron III. It was titled Everything’s Better with Bacon, Except Sink Pipes. The article discussed the problems caused by tenants pouring bacon grease down the drain and discussed billing tenants for the repairs. The article raised some great questions and was curious how you handle this type of problem. Do you have a policy in place to address clogged drains? Do you charge tenants for clogged drains? If so, does it depend on what caused the clog? What’s the worst thing you’ve pulled out of a clogged drain?

I’m sure everyone would love to hear your answers. Post your response on the RSI Facebook page so everyone can share in your experience and knowledge. It’s always nice to see how fellow professionals handle a problem.

Leave a comment on the RSI Facebook page. -

Legal Update

The City of Tacoma recently passed ordinance #28559, enacting a new law entitled “Rental Housing Code”. A summary of the new law can be found on the RSI Blog.


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