Typically, a lease for residential property requires the tenant to pay on the first day of the month and gives the tenant a grace period to pay rent on the fifth day of the month before incurring late fees.
It is the tenant’s responsibility to manage his or her money in order to pay rent each month.
One day a tenant asks her landlord if she could pay rent on the third Wednesday of each month because she is disabled and receives her Social Security Disability payment at that time.
Should the landlord approve or deny the requested accommodation to pay rent at a different time each month?
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the rental, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any renter because of a handicap or to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling because of a handicap. Discrimination includes a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. In this situation, there is a connection between the tenant’s disability status and her income. Because the tenant’s disability affects when she receives her income, it affects when she can pay rent each month. Unless the requested accommodation to pay her rent later in the month will cause the landlord an undue financial or administrative burden (which is difficult for a landlord to prove), the landlord must approve the requested accommodation to change the rule/policy to pay rent by the fifth day of the month before incurring late fees. HUD came to the same conclusion in a Charge of Discrimination in 2006 against a Michigan housing provider.
If you ever have any questions or need assistance on how to handle a tenant requesting an accommodation because of a disability, consult an attorney that specializes in landlord-tenant and Fair Housing law.