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Can a disabled tenant request early termination of lease under Fair Housing Act "reasonable accommodation"?

Fairfield, CT |

I am a private homeowner who leased their home to the current tenant. This is the only property I own and I leased it through a broker.

Tenant recently sent a letter asking for early termination of the lease without penalty (lease does not allow them to terminate early), citing Fair Housing Act "reasonable accommodation". Tenant has been problematic in paying on time in the past.

As the Landlord, I have a few questions:

- Am I obligated to terminate the lease without penalty?

- As I will incur damages due to a vacant home, would requiring a termination fee that is less than the total remaining rent (which I would otherwise have asked for), be viewed as reasonable accommodation?

- On the flip-side, would my requirement of such termination fee be viewed as discrimination under the FHA?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. You don't provide enough information, which leaves me with more questions. First -- did the tenant have the disability when he/she signed the lease and/or at the beginning of the tenancy? Secondly, has the tenant provided you with documentation concerning the alleged disability? Third, why is the rental unit no longer acceptable for a person with such disability? Why does such "disability" require a move?

    The reason I ask these questions is because "reasonable accommodations" depending on the person's situation may be achieved without having to terminate the lease (first thing that comes to mind is installation of a handicap ramp, etc.) I'm wondering if the disability is real or if it's some kind of excuse to terminate the lease.

    I think you should consult an attorney in your area for more guidance. If the person is truly disabled you don't want to find yourself in violation of the FHA.

    DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.

  2. The "reasonable accommodation" determination is based on the disability and the ability/willingness of the landlord to modify the housing to accommodate the needs of the disabled person. To properly answer the question, we need to know what the claimed disability is and if any requests were made to make a modification to the property.
    In general, there are many Fair Housing Act helpful brochures on this site:
    and I agree with the previous answer, you should contact an attorney to discuss this matter.

    This answer is an answer to a general legal forum question and does not constitute legal advice on your case nor does it create a client relationship.

  3. As the prior answer informed you, the issue is his handicap and your efforts to accomodate him. Without this information, no-one can answer your question.

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