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What California landlords need to know about accessibility

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2023 | Real Estate Litigation

If you own or manage any kind of property in the Los Angeles area, you know that California has some of the strongest accessibility regulations in the country. That includes residential properties available to rent.

Of course, there are federal regulations as well. These include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law in 1990 as well as the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also details accessibility regulations.

What if you are simply renting out a home that you bought as an investment property or a condo that you no longer use? If, like many properties in the area, it was built in the early part of the 20th century (or even a little later), it may not have the accessible features like step-free entrances or wide doorways that some people need. All disabilities don’t involve mobility. Maybe you have a potential deaf renter who needs a special doorbell that alerts them when someone is at the door.

Who is responsible for paying for the modifications?

This is where the regulations around reasonable modifications come in. Renters have a right to make reasonable modifications to the property or request that the landlord make them. It’s important to know when you as a landlord are required to pay for these modifications and when the renter can be required to do so (as well as footing the bill for removing them when they move out).

Typically, if a requested modification brings the property into ADA compliance, the property owner must pay for it. If it’s not required under the law, but a tenant needs it to be able to live there, they would need to show that they can pay for it (and its removal).

It’s important to remember that anyone can become disabled at any point in their lives. A renter who was in perfect physical condition when they moved in could be in a devastating car crash that makes their home uninhabitable for them without modifications.

This is just a brief look at what L.A. property owners and managers need to know when a potential or current renter requests accessibility modifications. It’s wise to learn more about your obligations as well as your rights under the laws to help avoid costly legal issues.