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Real Estate Law News: Example for Wary Landlords and Property Owners

Here’s a profound truth those in the real estate industry will readily acknowledge:

Owning and Managing Real Estate is challenging.

 

I hear it from my Property Owner clients. I experience it when I am involved in negotiating in landlord/tenant disputes.

 

Some of the pitfalls property owners have to watch out for are illustrated in a recent Federal government press release.

The Department of Justice issued a press release concerning a lawsuit settlement reached with Landlords over Discrimination Charges brought by the Federal Government. You can review that press release here

 

According to the press release, the Federal government alleged in its complaint that the Landlords “discriminated on the basis of disability by refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to waive a $1,000 pet deposit for a tenant with mental disabilities who needed a dog as an emotional support animal.”

Other allegations:

  • “the defendants refused to grant a waiver of the pet deposit despite numerous attempts by the tenant to provide documentation of her disability and her need for the emotional support animal.”
  • “The complaint also alleged that the defendants retaliated against the tenant after she filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).”
  • “Defendants’ policies constituted a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act because they allowed reasonable accommodations for specially-trained service animals but precluded reasonable accommodations for emotional support animals.
  • ” Defendants also refused to consider accommodation requests unless tenants had their physician complete forms that threatened penalty of perjury and threatened to require the physician to defend the information provided in court.”

 

Obviously these are serious allegations (which according to the Settlement Agreement, I presume are not admitted by the Landlords)

When reviewing the terms of the Lease as alleged by the government, they seem pretty terse. However, I wonder;  how many standard leases contain those or similar provisions?

The language could have been drafted by the landlords themselves, or it could very well have been drafted by a lawyer trying to protect his client from as much liability as possible

 

 

Strictly talking about the allegations of the unreasonably burdensome lease language, there are some lessons to be learned for landlords, property owners, managers, real estate investors.

 

Two takeaways from this news headline:

 

1. It is worth having your lawyer review your standard leases to make sure they are legally compliant and don’t have the potential to steer you into liability in the event a tenant has a grievance.

Although, your lawyer’s review of your lease won’t protect you if you take retaliatory action against a tenant with a grievance (but this goes without saying, I hope)

 

2. If you lease out “residential” property as opposed to commercial, you are under much more stringent regulations. You should make sure that everything, including what you charge the tenant for, and how those charges are incurred, are lawful.

 

Questions? Comments?

email: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com

http://www.dwlawpc.com

 

 

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