What can I do if my landlord won’t do anything to help with my mental or physical disability?

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Sometimes there is a connection between a tenant’s physical or mental  disability and a lease violation. When this occurs, the tenant may ask the landlord for a reasonable accommodation that will allow the tenant to keep their housing. A tenant may make this request in connection with an eviction action or at any time before eviction.

Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • using a power of attorney to pay the rent on time,
  • having a cleaning service clean the apartment, or
  • moving from a one bedroom to a two bedroom apartment fora live-in aide.

Many older people benefit from a companion animal, based on a doctor’s note that the animal helps with depression or other illnesses.

If there is a connection between the health problem and the lease violation, generally the landlord may not evict for the lease violation. The landlord may deny the reasonable accommodation request if:

  • it would impose a large financial or administrative burden;
  • it would change the nature of the housing provided; or
  • it would not eliminate the direct physical threat to the health and safety of other tenants.

These reasonable accommodation rules apply in both private housing and subsidized housing. When a reasonable accommodation is granted, the tenant must then remain in compliance with the lease. A tenant may also make more than one reasonable accommodation request.

A tenant may also request a reasonable modification to their rental dwelling or to common areas of the building such as wheelchair accessible entryways to both dwelling units and common areas.

If a tenant needs a modification in order to use the apartment or house, the landlord must allow the modification if it is reasonable. In private housing (including section 8 voucher housing), the tenant is required to pay for the modification if it is reasonable.

Tenants who have either a physical or mental disability should consider using a request for reasonable accommodation or modification to obtain or keep affordable housing.

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