There are many perks when it comes to renting to elderly tenants. It is rare that you will have to deal with them making the same mistakes as young tenants and if they are recipients of pension beneficiaries or are drawing social security, they will have a steady source of income. However, elderly tenants come with their own set of concerns for landlords including…
- Health Problems
- Mental Health Issues (dementia, alzheimers, hoarding, etc.)
- Americans with Disabilities Act compliances and accessibility issues
- Housing Discrimination Compliance
- Eviction Concerns
Elderly tenants often tend to stay in one place for a long time. While the consistency is great, if they have locked in their rent price it can prevent landlords from making more money with a tenant who has started a new lease at a later time. In some instances, this has caused landlords to create problems for the elderly tenant in an effort to get them to move. However, this can be found to be discriminatory which is illegal in most cases.
Elderly Tenants Who are Disabled
Under no circumstances can you legally discriminate elderly tenants who are disabled. You are not allowed to ask about any existing (or previous) conditions regarding their mental or physical health, even if they are obvious. Your decision to lease or not to lease to them cannot be based upon a disability. If the tenant presents their disabilities to you and needs a reasonable accommodation to be made, it will be at your expense and not their. This can include things such as allowing for an assistance animal when you would not otherwise allow pets, installing rail grips in showers, providing a new reserved handicap spot close to their entrance, etc. Small-scale landlords are not usually required by law to make any structural changes. When working with disabled tenants, it is important that you review the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Fair Housing Act as they will contain all of the applicable laws. The ADA might not include everything you need to know. By looking at both, you can be sure that you have all of the information you need to maintain the legal guidelines. Exemptions: Federal Fair Housing laws are not applicable for buildings that have less than five units if the owner lives on the premises. They also do not apply to single-family homes that were rented without using a broker and advertising. But, this can only be used for three dwellings per landlord.
Enforcing Rent Rules is Beneficial for Elderly Tenants
Did you know that you can actually help your elderly tenants by enforcing rent rules? By not allowing them to get too far behind on rent payments. If they insinuate that they are struggling and may be late, you could refer them to a charitable agency that may be able to provide some assistance. Typically, these agencies will not help tenants who are more than 30 days behind. Helping your tenant find the help they need does not mean that you will get paid but instead that they will be able to find new housing that is within their budget. If you let tenants get by without making payments, you might only be making their problem worse while making things more financially difficult for yourself. Do not hesitate to take action when it comes to collecting rent, providing support, leading your tenants to assistance, and evicting them on the terms agreed to in the lease. If you notice that your elderly tenant is always late paying their rent, it might be because their pension or social security payments come at a certain time each month. In an effort to keep a good tenant, you might consider adjusting their rent due date accordingly. If they continue making late payments, you will know something else might be up.
Dealing with Hoarders
For most tenants, you can evict them if they do not maintain your property. However, hoarding is a clinical disorder according to the APA which can protect hoarding tenants under the Fair Housing Act. Although the Fair Housing Act can protect hoarders, they are still required to preserve the structure of the property, keep it from becoming damaged, and abide by health and safety regulations. While you cannot evict a tenant for hoarding, you do not have to allow them to continue to live in unsafe conditions such as…
- Damaging or blocking fire prevention systems
- Blocking emergency exits or fire lanes
- Failing to properly store hazardous materials
- Having unauthorized pets or too many aside from service animals.
- Attracting rodents or pests
There are other considerations that you might have to make for elderly tenants that may struggle taking care of themselves or your property. The best way to protect yourself and your rights is by documenting any problems carefully. Be sure to take pictures of hoarding, hygiene, and other things that are problematic. In the event that hoarding becomes a problem, try working with the tenant or their relatives to devise a cleanup plan. It is important that you follow up with inspections so that you can be sure that they followed through.
Evicting Elderly Tenants can be Difficult
In many areas, both on the local and state level elderly tenants are more protected by the law. If the time comes and you need to evict them, we suggest getting in touch with your attorney. By documenting everything prior to the actual eviction, you will be able to show the court that you have done your part to find assistance for the tenant by providing referrals to outside agencies and programs.
Help for Elderly Tenants after Eviction
As a landlord, you never want to evict good tenants. This is especially true when it comes to those who are elderly as it can be difficult for them to establish themselves elsewhere. If you begin having problems with an elderly tenant, you might try getting them in contact with an assistance program so that you can avoid the eviction– which would be costly and emotionally difficult for both parties. There are a variety of organizations that can assist your tenant . From helping them tackle their day-to-day activities, managing their finances, keeping their dwelling tidy, getting money when they are on the verge of eviction, and other similar tasks.
Paid organizations that might be able to help your elderly tenant include…
- The Red Cross
- United Way
- Salvation Army
- Catholic Charities
- Visiting Angels
- Long-term Insurance Carriers
- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program
- Local Churches and Synagogues
- County Health Nurses
- Offices of Elder Care
In some cases, all your tenant needs is a short-term cash assistance program to buy them enough time for a relative to intervene or find another solution that will still protect you and the terms as agreed upon in the lease.
Contact us (866-500-6200) for more information today!
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