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Audit Finds Alameda Landlords Discriminate Against Potential Disabled Tenants

A fair housing audit prepared by The Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity, (ECHO) to be presented to the Alameda Social Service Human Relations Board tonight, suggests that Alameda landlords discriminate against prospective tenants who are disabled and may need reasonable modifications to the rental property.

Under federal and state fair housing laws, landlords are supposed to allow tenants to make reasonable changes to the home to support disabled tenants. It might mean building a wheelchair ramp at the entrance to the home, or installing a flashing light system to signal to a hearing impaired tenant that the doorbell is ringing.

In the audit, testers sent by ECHO inquired about rental units in several East Bay cities, including Alameda. During their visit, they asked about the possibility of installing grab bars in the bathroom and lowering kitchen counters to make the unit more accessible for disabled residents.

In Alameda, ECHO tested ten rental properties with a pair of female testers, one who requested modifications for her sister, and one who did not request any modifications, and measured whether or not the landlord would allow the two modifications.

The testers reported that 70 percent of landlords, or their representatives, responded to the requests in a discriminatory manner, in several cases saying that it would be okay to install the grab bars, but that the owner would have to approve efforts to lower the kitchen counters. At least one representative was unsure if any of the requested modifications could be made.

ECHO plans to follow up the audit with an educational campaign, including free training sessions, directed at the owners and property managers involved.

5 comments to Audit Finds Alameda Landlords Discriminate Against Potential Disabled Tenants

  • Marie

    Wouldn’t it be great if tv and radio stations presented public service programs that explain in simple terms what our rights are under our laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, just as one example. That way, we as citizens could be generally aware of our rights and be able to state them whenever there is any doubt. It would sure be helpful. We all need to be citizens as well as consumers. Most people I have talked to have no clue that landlords and employers must make reasonable accommidations!

  • Barbara

    As a property owner, I would not change my kitchen to accommodate anyone because it is expensive. Some requests are just unreasonable.

  • The landlord would not have to pay for the modifications, the tenant would. What’s not clear is who would pay to put it back after the tenant moves out.

  • Paul

    David, The tenant would be responsible for restoration if that language is in the lease/rental terms. I believe requiring the tenant to deposit an equal amount that it costs to modify the unit be placed in escrow, to insure my property be restored to it’s original condition is not an unreasonable request.

    http://www.neweditions.net/housing/resources/Reasonable_Modifications_and_Resources-13112.pdf

    A housing owner must allow a person with a disability to make reasonable physical modifications to a
    unit if needed in order for that individual to fully use and enjoy the housing unit. Examples of
    modifications might be the installation of grab bars in the bath by someone with a physical disability or
    visual (flashing light) fire safety devices for an individual with a hearing loss.
    Private rental housing:
    Owners may require that the modifications be completed in a professional manner and be in
    compliance with all applicable building codes. In addition, owners may require that the tenant
    restore the unit to its original condition before vacating.

  • Barbara

    The problem is that the minute you will touch your property, building inspectors in Alameda will run the show. One modification can run into bringing the whole building up to the code…and that is scary…We have a lot of old properties here, properties are expensive, and renting is not such a lucrative business anymore.

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