While renting is popular among the younger generations, they’re not the only ones embracing this trend. In fact, according to a study conducted by RENTCafé, the number of renters older than 60 has increased by 43% in the last decade. And, while the majority of renters are aged between 35 and 59, elderly renters are increasingly opting to live in a rental than own a home.
If you fit into this category, it’s important to understand your legal protections. For instance, elderly renters are considered to be those who are older than 62. As such, they have protection both from the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. So, if you’re considering moving into a new lease, keep the following in mind to ensure that you’re not being discriminated against.
Age and Disability
When visiting a potential property, whether it’s an apartment for rent in Houston, Chicago, or anywhere in the U.S., it’s important to know what to expect when discussing a potential lease. For starters, expect to be treated just like any other person that is looking for an apartment for rent. Specifically, the landlord or property manager may not ask you about your age or any disabilities you may have. In fact, discrimination based on age or disability is against the law. If you’re asked such questions and your lease is denied, you can sue the landlord for discrimination.
Similarly, you cannot be evicted because of your age. However, you can be evicted for other issues, such as, improperly storing hazardous materials, hoarding, which attracts rodents and pests, blocking of emergency exists, damaging or interfering with fire prevention systems, or living with unauthorized or excessive pets – just to name a few. So, make sure that you do take care of the property when living there to avoid any issues with the landlord.
Safety Measures and Adjusted Property for the Disabled
You also have the right to ask the landlord to make certain adjustments to the property to ensure that your living accommodations are as safe and as comfortable as possible. Legally, the landlord is required to make proper arrangements to his or her property at the request of the disabled tenant, and the landlord is also required to pay for the related adjustments. These can range from installing grab bars in bathrooms to making the doors wheelchair-accessible, to ensuring the elevators are functional, and maintaining overall safety measures. If you’re in need of any such services, know that is it your right to request these modifications to your rental and to the property, in general, to ensure the best and safest living conditions.
There’s no doubt that you can bring your pets into pet-friendly properties. But, even when it comes to those that are not so welcoming of your furry friends, you may still be able to rent there and keep your pet. For instance, elderly renters may make a request to bring a pet onto the property to assist them physically or for emotional comfort. Discuss your options with the landlord to make minor accommodations. In particular, if the pet is kept clean and doesn’t damage the property or disturb other tenants, you should be able to bring it with you. However, make sure you discuss this with the landlord before signing a lease.
Security Deposit and Ending a Lease Early
In some instances, depending either on the state or the property itself, senior citizens may just have to provide a security deposit equivalent to one month’s rent. Additionally, depending on when your pension and Social Security payments come in each month, you may also request a different due date for your rent. Likewise, you may also be able to terminate the lease earlier than agreed upon in the leasing contract if you’re accepted into a federally or state-subsidized housing unit. In this case, you must provide 30 days’ notice to the landlord indicating the termination of the lease.
Technology has no doubt taken over most of our daily activities, but there’s nothing wrong with not embracing it completely. For example, while many rental properties have switched to online platforms to pay rent or request services, you can still choose to pay rent the old-school way, even if that means dropping a check off at the landlord’s office. Just be sure to communicate with your landlord about the best way to pay your rent and make sure that your needs are addressed.
As an elderly renter, you have certain legal protections. So, before you sign your next lease, be as informed as possible about your rights before and after moving into your next rental.
Sanziana Bona is a creative writer and researcher for RENTCafé, with a strong passion for the dynamic real estate market, covering topics from lifestyle to market trends. She has a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from Michigan State University, a LL.M. in International Business Law, Contracting and International Relations from Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía.