Most landlords want to do what is best for their tenants, and what is best for themselves. Their good intentions can be put to the test when they are faced with the possibility that a tenant is mentally ill. On the one hand, they are obligated to protect the interests of any other tenants they may have, but they also have to be careful not to override the rights provided under the Fair Housing Act.
At Rental Research Services, we want to provide landlords with the knowledge they need to protect their assets and follow the laws governing fair housing and disability. Continue reading to learn the guidelines that landlords need to follow and contact Rental Research Services for all of your tenant screening needs.
Discrimination Against the Mentally Ill is Illegal
When it comes to renting a home to someone who suffers from a mental illness, it is illegal to discriminate against them. For example, you are not permitted to ask about any mental illnesses during the tenant screening process, nor can you use this information against them when making your decision.
Don’t Be Nosy
Asking questions that would give you details about their mental illness will get you into trouble very quickly. Stay on the safe side and ask questions only about any issues with lease compliance or accommodations they might need.
You Can’t Evict Mentally Ill Renters
Due to a number of protections in both the Fair Housing Act and other disability laws, you can get into quite a bit of legal trouble if you evict a renter solely based on their mental illness. The only legal reason for eviction would be if they violated any of the terms of their lease. Rental Research Services can provide the tenant screenings you need to help you make decisions that are good for you and also keep you free from legal trouble.
You Need to Provide Reasonable Accommodations
As a landlord, you could be expected to provide reasonable accommodations to assist renters with mental illnesses gain housing. For example, you might be expected to overlook gaps in employment due to hospitalizations they had for treatment of their mental illness. The accommodations, however, must be reasonable for both you and the renter as the landlord is not expected to handle excessive logistics or financial burdens.
You Can Request Documentation
Landlords are permitted to request documentation to support a renter’s claim that they are mentally ill or need other, specific accommodations. You are not expected to take someone at their word and potentially deal with a scam. Unfortunately, there are people who try to take advantage of a system that is designed to help those with legitimate needs.
You Might Need to Relax a No-Pets Policy
While you may have a no-pets policy for a number of different, valid reasons, you may have to consider altering this rule for renters with mental illness. If their physician has recommended that they have a service animal, or a pet for emotional support, then you will need to consider changing your rules to accommodate what the renter needs in this situation.
The requirements that landlords need to follow when renting to those with mental disabilities are quite similar to those with any other type of disability. The primary difference is how many things you will be expected to manage. If you are unsure about how to make certain that you are doing what is expected of you while not putting your assets at risk, then contact Rental Research Services today and let our property management company provide the tenant screening services you need. Let our experience and expertise give you the peace of mind you need.