Live-in Aides and Fair-Housing Compliance

Disability is a protected under Fair Housing so if a resident asks about live-in aids be sure you know reasonable accommodation procedures

Disability is a protected class under Fair Housing so when a resident approaches you about live-in aids be sure your reasonable accommodation procedures are up to date.

By The Fair Housing Institute

A live-in aide request: For properties such as senior living communities, this is a regular request, and the procedure is memorized by many of the staff. But are your procedures up to date with the Fair Housing Act? For other properties, these requests aren’t all that common and can cause some stress due to lack of experience. What are some of the nuances you should be aware of? Let’s break it down.

Remember, Disability Is a Protected Category

When a resident approaches you asking questions about the process or even about the form to request live-in aides, you need to be aware of some pitfalls.

Remember, disability is a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. So, during conversations to assist your residents, avoiding certain questions will help you avoid a fair-housing complaint. Anything direct, such as the name of the disability or even asking if they have a disability (if they don’t have physical manifestations), should be strictly avoided.

Remember, your company’s reasonable accommodation form or an approved letter from a verifier will more than likely have answers to these questions. You should not ask such questions in your interactions with the resident. Your role in this process is to inform the resident of the proper procedure and help guide them in their request.

Check Your Forms

For management, the drafting of reasonable-accommodation forms can be tricky.

There are generic ones that you can definitely use, especially as forms aren’t required under fair-housing law. However, if your form has open-ended questions, it may be difficult to make the final decision on approving such a request. It is always recommended to employ the services of a fair-housing lawyer. Below is a list of possible questions that you may have on the form, specifically for live-in aide requests:

  • Does the resident require 24-hour care?
  • How many hours a day does the resident require care?
  • What services are needed to provide adequate care for the resident?
  • Will the live-in aide be a permanent or long-term solution?

The verifier provided by the resident should fill out your property’s provided form. If the resident has already met with a verifier—their doctor, as an example—and provided a letter answering the questions found on your form, then a form isn’t required.

Follow-Up Policy

Your resident has approached you about the need for a live-in aide, and a verified form or letter has been acquired.

How do you follow up?

Once the need for a live-in aide is confirmed and presented, your procedure must include a few things. First, remember that a live-in aide is not a resident, so while a criminal background check can be enforced, a credit check cannot. What if your resident wants a family member as their live-in aide? This can be permitted as long as it is verified that the family member is there to render necessary care to your resident. You may also need to address an additional reasonable accommodation for a larger unit depending on the current unit your resident is residing in.

As always in any procedure, ensure every interaction and all steps are thoroughly documented. This can help you prevent delays in following through with the accommodation and any miscommunication between different members of the staff. If there is a delay in the accommodation, having proper documentation will also help you give a clear answer to the resident in case of questions or confrontations.

Live-In Aide Accommodation Summary

In summary, no matter the type of property, you need to be prepared for any kind of reasonable-accommodation request, especially when it comes to live-in aides. Reviewing your procedures, whether they’re well-used or a little dusty, can help you prevent fair-housing complaints that could lead to pricey violations.

As touched on before, while generic forms are acceptable, they can make the reasonable-accommodation process longer for both parties. Employing a fair-housing lawyer to work on your own custom, in-depth accommodation forms can help you save time and avoid delays. In addition, focus heavily on proper documentation training. Especially when dealing with accommodations involving a protected category, keeping all staff informed of conversations and current steps can also aid in avoiding fair housing violations. So, the next time that a live-in aide request presents itself, you can confidently help your resident and stay fair-housing compliant.

In 2005, The Fair Housing Institute was founded as a company with one goal: to provide educational and entertaining fair-housing compliance training at an affordable price at the click of a button