Reasonable Accommodation: Score a Few for the Landlords
Article by Kenneth Krems for New England Assisted Housing Management Association publication
Section 504, The ADA. What do these laws mean? How do they impact a landlord's obligation to the tenants? These are questions landlords have struggled with for the last few years, and these questions are still difficult to answer. As more cases are decided, however, there are more guidelines for landlords to follow. Several of the most recent cases have been decided in favor of landlords.
One case which emphasized the need for reasonable accommodation was decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1991. In that case, a 77-year-old female tenant suffered from a mental disability which caused her to hear voices. In response, she would hit the walls of her apartment with a broom or stick and throw objects at the walls. This activity did relatively minor damage to the unit and did not substantially interfere with the quiet enjoyment of other tenants. The Court held that the landlord could not evict the tenant, but had to accommodate her by giving her further opportunities to obtain counseling to help her control the behavior.