Renters don’t always have it easy, but they do have protections. New Jersey landlords must abide by many regulations under state and federal law designed to keep tenants safe and free from exploitation. These rules and regulations take on added importance when the renter has a disability.
A number of state and federal laws prohibit discrimination against disabled people in housing. New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants, prospective tenants, buyers, prospective buyers and occupants just because they are (or someone they are associated with is) disabled. This law is enforced by the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.
One of the most common issues in housing discrimination disputes involves a request for accommodation. A disabled person has the right to ask a landlord for a reasonable accommodation to give them equal access to their home and common areas. A landlord must provide the accommodation so long as it is reasonable.
For instance, a tenant with mobility issues might request the installation of grab bars in a shower, or the installation of a ramp. If it is reasonable to provide such accommodations, the landlord must do so.
The disputes arise over the question of what is reasonable. For example, if the property is a 100-year-old building, it may be extremely expensive to install a ramp or an elevator to get a tenant to an apartment on the third floor. These accommodations might even make it difficult for other tenants in the building to get into their own apartments. As a result, the landlord might say it is not reasonable to request such accommodations. It may be possible to find an alternative accommodation that is reasonable in some cases but not in others.
These disputes can be quite complicated. Disabled people can speak with an experienced attorney to learn about their legal options.