What Are Reasonable Modifications?

What are Reasonable Modifications?

The Federal Fair Housing Act requires that landlords allow disabled tenants to make physical changes (modifications) to their housing to make it more handicap accessible. Structural changes can be made to the interior and exteriors of the housing, as well as outside common areas.

As long as the modification does not cause the landlord an undue financial or administrative burden, the modification must be allowed.

Different types of modifications can include:
· Installing wheelchair ramps
· Lowering countertops
· Widening doorways
· Installing grab bars

While landlords must allow a tenant to make a reasonable modification to the property, the tenant is usually responsible for paying any costs associated with the modification. In a situation where the tenant is living in a property that is receiving federal funding, such as certain types of low income housing, the landlord would likely have to pay for the costs of the modification.

In most cases,  the tenant is responsible for removing any modifications made to the inside of the unit once he or she is ready to move out. However, the landlord can only require a tenant to remove modifications that would interfere with a new tenant’s ability to use or enjoy the housing. For example, if the tenant lowered the countertops in the kitchen, the landlord could require it to be returned to its original height since it would interfere with a new tenant.

Lastly, a landlord cannot require that a tenant remove modifications made to the exterior of the unit or common areas, since these modifications would likely improve accessibility for all tenants and visitors.


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