Obligation to Disabled Tenant

 Question: We own a rental home in north Phoenix. Our property manager has received a proposed lease from a quadriplegic. The home will need to be retrofitted to accommodate the needs of the quadriplegic. Our property manager says that under Fair Housing laws we are required to retrofit the home. The cost will be approximately $5,000. We have lost money since buying this rental home, and don’t want to lose $5,000 more. Do we have to retrofit the home?

  Answer: No. Although Fair Housing laws prohibit discrimination against a disabled tenant, the landlord is not obligated to install improvements to meet the needs of a disabled tenant. The landlord must, however, allow the tenant to install any such improvements at the tenant’s own expense. The tenant is required at the end of the lease, and at the tenant’s expense, to remove the improvements and restore the home to its prior condition. The Americans with Disabilities Act requiring improvements to accommodate persons with disabilities does not apply to residential property, only to commercial property such as office buildings.

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