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Reasonable Accommodations for Tenants with Disabilities

Landlords within California cannot discriminate against a disabled tenant. Many times, a landlord will be required to make reasonable accommodations at his or her own expense for disabled tenants (42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B)). A disabled tenant may expect a landlord to reasonably adjust rules, procedures, or services in order to provide an equal opportunity for use and enjoyment. This does not mean that every accommodation will be considered reasonable, and those that create undue burden or hardship are not required to be adhered to by landlords.

Additionally, landlords are often required to allow a disabled tenant to make reasonable modifications to his or her living space at the tenant’s personal expense (42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(A)). Disabled tenants generally have the right to make the living space comfortable and safe. However, these modifications must make the living space acceptable to future tenants, or in the situation they don’t, the tenant must have the financial means to undo the modifications.

The federal Fair Housing Act and Fair Housing Amendments Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, 3631) prohibit discrimination against people who:

  • have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities -- including, but not limited to:

  • mobility impairments

  • hearing impairments

  • visual impairments

  • chronic alcoholism

  • mental illness

  • HIV, AIDS, and AIDS-Related Complex, or

  • mental retardation

  • have a history of such a disability, or

  • are regarded by others as though they have such a disability.

Landlords that are asked to make a reasonable accommodation by a disabled tenant are entitled to ask for some form of proof in order to verify the tenant’s disability. Proof can often be obtained from a tenant’s doctor or therapist, and allows the landlord to validate disabilities that are not always obvious.

Disabled tenants have significant legal protection. If you or someone you know is a tenant living with a disability and have questions regarding tenant or landlord rights, please call Aziz Legal by phone (408) 203-4627 or email us at

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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