open thread – June 7, 2024 — Ask a Manager

Hoping this is work-related enough for Friday.. I’m feeling pretty drained and could use some level-headed insight:

Landlords, property managers, and anyone else that has experience in this – when and how should a tenant disclose an invisible disability?

I have multiple chemical sensitivity, which is severe enough to fall under the definition of a disability under the ADA and I need to find housing that won’t make me sick (or at least minimize my exposure to stuff that will make me sick). For housing, I’d want to ask my landlords to avoid using substances that I react to, or if they do need to use something that I might react to, that they please contact me first to work out how to do it without making me sick (for example, if they need to do pest remediation or repairs that they’d need to paint over).

I’d also want to ask them to give me more notice and flexibility if they ever wanted to terminate my lease – I’d need at least 90 days notice in order to find new housing that can accommodate my disability, and would want the flexibility to terminate my lease, without penalty, in the event that I found other, suitable housing before the 90 days were up. This is because the housing market is really tough here and I’d need the flexibility to find another place for myself because I can’t predict or control when someplace suitable would open up, or how much lead time I’d be given for moving in.

I feel like on the one hand, it’s a lot to ask (especially the flexible termination thing), but on the other hand, the housing market is really tight here, and the chances of me finding something in the standard 30-day window is pretty slim. I’d have a much better chance with a 90-day window.

I had issues with my soon-to-be-former landlord on this when she decided to sell the property shortly after I moved in. The property is sort of a condo, but the way it’s set up, it could easily be either an investment property or owner-occupied. I hadn’t fully explained to her exactly how difficult it would be for me to find new housing if the new owners didn’t want to keep it as an investment property. My soon-to-be-former landlord made a bunch of decisions without sharing much info with her tenants throughout the entire listing/showing/sale process, so by the time moveout became an issue, she had already made a bunch of decisions (for example, the closing date and the fact that she was expecting me to occupy the unit/pay rent up until the day before closing, which is the day my lease expires) and couldn’t or didn’t want to change some of those decisions. This made accommodating me difficult and she got pretty mad when I asked for the option to terminate my lease early – but she hasn’t handled this whole process well in general, so I’m trying sort out exactly what I could have done better vs what’s just.. her being bananapants. I’m trying to find some level-headed feedback on what I should do differently with future landlords. When and how is the best way to disclose what I’d need? From the landlord’s perspective, is there anything I can do to show I want to be aboveboard about it, while still avoiding potential discrimination if I disclose this stuff too soon?

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