By Rights... Answers to Your Human Rights Questions

Column 14

In this column:

  • How Landlords Must Reasonably Accommodate Tenants

How Landlords Must Reasonably Accommodate Tenants

Do I have the right to ask my landlord to adjust my apartment inside and outside to accommodate me as a disabled person? And who should I talk to about this matter?

The Commissioner says:

If you have a disability, you have a right under the Minnesota Human Rights Act to a reasonable accommodation from your landlord, to enable you to have full enjoyment of the apartment you are renting. What's reasonable varies from case to case, but it could include adjustments to both the inside and outside of your unit.

Some typical examples are:

  • Constructing a ramp to allow a person who uses a wheelchair to more easily enter the building;
  • Providing a parking space near the building designed for use by persons with disabilities (if your landlord provides parking);
  • Modifications, including grab bars, to bathrooms;
  • Special telephone accessories, such as lights that flash when a phone call comes in, for people who are hearing impaired; and
  • Allowing a service animal, even if your landlord prohibits pets.

Note however, that it is generally not your landlord's responsibility to pay for any structural changes or special equipment -- your landlord simply has to permit such modifications, at your expense, when it is reasonable to do so. And when you move, you could be required to remove the modifications and restore the apartment to its original condition. However, if you are being denied the enjoyment of your unit because your apartment violates local building codes or other state or federal laws that require certain accessibility features for buildings constructed after a certain year, your landlord could be required to pay to bring his building up to code.

You should have a conversation with your landlord or his agent about your needs. We should point out, also, that a landlord -- like an employer -- doesn't necessarily have to agree to the accommodation you might prefer, only to one that is reasonable and effective. But if your landlord refuses to make a reasonable accommodation or won't negotiate with you over your request, you should contact our Intake unit at 651-296-5663 or 1-800-657-3704. For more information about the rights of individuals with disabilities to accessible housing, you may also wish to contact the Minnesota State Council on Disability. You can find them on the web at: http://www.disability.state.mn.us.

The answers in these columns are not intended as legal advice. The Department of Human Rights does not make a judgment on any case without carefully examining all the facts.

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