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Renting to Elderly Tenants

Special Considerations for Renting to Elderly Tenants

March 31, 2016

As a landlord, renting to elderly tenants can be a great business decision. In fact, there has been a 4.3 million jump in senior renters over the past 10 years.There are many benefits of renting to the elderly. With that said, it is vital to understand the laws regarding this demographic. Senior citizens are protected by laws that you should be aware of and comply with–specifically in the case of an eviction.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and laws to keep in mind when renting to elderly tenants.

Benefits of Renting to Elderly Tenants

There are several benefits to renting to elderly tenants. They do not often engage in criminal activities. Also, they have reliable income if they are receiving social security or pension benefits. Renting to elderly tenants can often prevent them from being placed in a nursing home or even homeless.

Renters in their 50s and 60s are often more established financially, and prefer renting to allow them to live closer to their children and grandchildren. Renting also allows them to have a more flexible lifestyle to travel and not have to worry about the financial obligations of maintaining a home. This impacts landlords in that there is a higher demand for rental properties from this demographic, making properties more competitive.

While it can be rewarding to have senior tenants, there are certain laws that you should be aware of to protect your business as a landlord, and a property manager may be the best bet to help you out!

Laws Regarding Senior Citizen Tenants

Although there are laws regarding renting to seniors, it is important to understand both state and federal laws to ensure you are in compliance in the state for which you own a rental property. For example, in the US it is Illegal to discriminate in the area of housing on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, familial status or religion.

In most states, a landlord must give a tenant written notice of a potential lease violation, and the tenant must be given more than enough time to correct it before the landlord can begin an eviction. This is important to know, as it may be legal in your state to give a verbal notice or immediately evict if it is a serious violation of the lease.

Understand the laws regarding security deposits, as they may vary from state to state. For example, Minnesota law does not limit the amount a landlord can require as a security deposit. Alternatively, in Virginia, a landlord cannot receive a security deposit in excess of two months’ rent.

Senior Citizen Tenants with Pets

Elderly or disabled tenants may often own a pet to assist with daily operations in and out of the home. In some states, tenants with disabilities have the right to keep a pet (under a certain weight limit) in the property.

For example, in California, residents of public housing who are over the age of 60 or disabled may keep up to two small pets per apartment.

Landlords who receive federal money must make “reasonable accommodations” (such as allowing certain pets) for disabled tenants, as long as the accommodations aren’t a threat to the safety of the property and other tenants. However, If management makes reasonable accommodations and the pet creates problems, the tenant can be evicted.

Alternatives to Eviction

As a landlord, you must make tough judgement calls when dealing with elderly tenants and evictions. The most common reasons for evicting a tenant is due to consistently late or unpaid rent payments or damage to the property. A way to remedy this is to find out what could be causing the issue.

For example, if the tenant is consistently paying late, ask them about it. It could be that they are receiving their subsidy or paycheck on a later date than when rent is due. In this case, you may want to consider moving the date that the rent is due to prevent eviction proceedings.

If damage is made to the property, whether accidental or intentional, you first reaction could be to evict. Assess the cost of damage and alternatively have the tenant or a family member cover the repairs.

If an elderly tenant is struggling to pay rent due to health or finances, the following resources can assist:

When Eviction is Inevitable

Elderly tenants with failing health may no longer be able to live independently and properly maintain the property. This could be hazardous to the tenant and others.

Hoarding is not technically a violation of the lease as it is considered a clinical disorder (and protected by federal law), however certain habits can be grounds for eviction. For example, improper storage of hazardous material, attracting rodents or pets, and blocking emergency exits.

If you have made reasonable accommodations, implemented alternatives to eviction, and no improvements have been made, eviction may be the last resort. This process can be emotionally draining for both you and the tenant, so be prepared.

Be sure to check with an attorney if you are considering evicting an elderly tenant. As there are extra layers of protection for seniors, it is important to be sure of the laws regarding evictions.

Remember to research and know the state laws regarding senior citizens. You do not want to deal with a lawsuit or worse, due to lack of knowledge or compliance. Better yet, bring on the services of an experienced property management company such as Renters Warehouse to help take on many of these responsibilities.

Have any additional questions about renting to elderly tenants? Renters Warehouse and our experienced property management team can help landlords better serve their elderly clientele by keeping up with maintenance requests to prevent accidents, monitor the property in your absence, remain up to date on the various laws and so much more.

Photo Credit: Barn Images