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What You Need to Know About Renters with Mental Illness

According to statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 43.8 million Americans have mental illness each year. Most are able to manage their daily activities but sometimes symptoms can weaken them so that they aren’t able to do so. This can lead to questions about your role in a mentally ill person’s life.

Guidelines for Landlords

1. It’s illegal to discriminate against someone with mental illness when it comes to renting a home to them. This means that you can’t ask about mental illness during the screening process and you can’t use this information against them when making a decision, if you happen to learn about it.

2. You cannot ask details about your renter’s mental illness. Instead stick to questions about lease compliance and any accommodations they might need.

3. Mentally ill renters can’t be evicted due to their illness. They can only be evicted if they violate the terms of their lease.

4. There is some precedent in the courts that has seen eviction measures blocked for mentally ill renters until they were able to secure medical care or other support services that would help the renter follow the lease agreement in the future.

5. You could be expected to provide reasonable accommodations to help mentally ill renters gain housing. Some examples include overlooking gaps of unemployment due to hospitalization for treatment and allowing assistance with filling out the rental application.

6. The reasonable accommodations need to be feasible for both you and the renter without imposing an excessive logistics or financial burden.

7. You can request documentation to back up a renter’s claim that they are mentally ill or need specific accommodations.

8. Consider relaxing a “no pets” rule if the renter’s physician has recommended one for emotional support or access to a service animal.

While the requirements from you when approaching a renter with mental illness are much like any other disability, it can still be a great deal for you to manage. Hiring a property management company ensures that the law is followed while getting a great renter into your property.

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