Who Should Pay for Wheelchair Ramp, Parking Spot?
Robert S. Griswold | Steven R. Kellman | Ted Smith
This column on issues confronting renters and
landlords is written by Counselor of Real Estate and
Certified Property Manager Robert Griswold, host of Real
Estate Today! with Robert Griswold (10 a.m.
Saturdays on AM1130 - KSDO radio, or on the Internet
and by attorneys Steven R. Kellman, director of the
Tenants' Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a law
firm representing landlords.
QUESTION: I have lived in an Oceanside apartment since 1998. My
daughter is in a wheelchair and I asked for a handicap parking space
and a sidewalk ramp.
The on-site manager agreed yet I still don't have the space or the
ramp after more than nine months. Every month I hear another excuse.
Recently, I was told that the owner had to get permission for the ramp
from the city of Oceanside. I called them and that's not true since
the ramp wouldn't be on city property. What are my rights?
ANSWER: Kellman: Under State and Federal Fair Housing Laws, your
landlord must allow reasonable accommodations of the rental to
disabled persons. This includes reasonable modifications of the rental
unit as may be necessary to afford the disabled person the full
enjoyment of the premises.
Your landlord has apparently approved of the ramp but has delayed
installing one. Perhaps a reason for that delay is that you are
waiting for the landlord to pay for its installation. A ramp installed
specifically for your unit may be a reasonable accommodation but the
landlord may condition permission for the ramp on your promise to pay
To eliminate this as a delaying problem, you should consider offering,
in writing, to cover that expense. The handicapped parking space
should be promptly provided since they already approved of the request
and the landlord would have to pay for that particular cost if the
space is a benefit to others in the common area parking lot.
If the handicapped space would be purely for your benefit, you should
consider offering to pay that cost, also. The landlord should act
immediately on your requests since there are significant monetary
damages and penalties they may have to pay if they violate these laws.
Smith: Steve correctly points out that the landlord has a duty to make
reasonable accommodations based on your daughter's handicap. The
physically challenged tenant is allowed to be placed on a par with --
but not better than -- nonhandicapped tenants. Access to the premises
and reasonable accommodations are the key.
If in the common area and benefiting all tenants, then the ramp costs
must be borne by the landlord. The city does not have jurisdiction in
this matter. The law further provides that the tenant may make
reasonable modifications to the interior, but not structural changes.
The law states that the tenant must pay for these modifications.
This would include a ramp exclusively for your rental unit. The
landlord has the right to expect them to be done in a workmanlike
fashion in accordance with applicable building codes.
Q: I live downtown in a single room occupancy or SRO unit. (A SRO is a
small, one room, very economical unit that typically has common
bathroom and kitchen facilities that are shared by several tenants.)
The linens are stained and have holes in them.
I thought they would be replaced after the recent rent increase. Since
the linens weren't replaced, is there some agency I can call or should
I just refuse to pay my rent?
A: Kellman: The linens are apparently supplied as part of your rental
Unless otherwise agreed, the landlord should replace them when they
wear out by normal use. It is questionable whether stains on the linen
constitute a worn-out condition requiring replacement. Torn linen,
however, would present a worn-out condition requiring replacement.
There really is no public agency in San Diego that would step in and
the landlord to provide you new linen. To resolve this and most other
landlord-tenant disputes, you would follow much the same course.
First, document your position to the landlord in a polite letter. If
that doesn't work, you will need to take some action that could
include buying your own linen and keeping track of the cost. You could
bring a case in the small claims court for reimbursement after you
It would not be a good idea to withhold the rent in your case. That
should only be done under certain conditions and when the rental has
significant habitability problems. Before withholding any rent, seek
legal advice since not paying the rent could result in an eviction
case being promptly filed against you in court.
Smith: The landlord's point of view would hold you responsible for
replacement of the linens. Steve Kellman is going to have a tough time
convincing a court that the stained or worn linens are within the
California warranty of habitability. Let's face it, this is a rental
room -- not a full-service hotel. Try finding bargain linens at
Goodwill or Salvation Army.
If you want to continue living there, you must pay the increased rent,
erstwhile find yourself on the receiving end of an eviction
lawsuit. No dogs!
Q: My husband and I had to move out of the country so we put our house
in the hands of a property management company. We specifically stated
in the contract that we wanted our house rented to someone with NO
The property manager however has rented the house to a family with two
dogs and three cats. I am back in the country now and have looked at
my beautiful back yard and it is ruined by the two dogs. Who is
responsible for the damage done by those huge dogs?
A: Griswold: I believe that you have a good claim for the damages to
yard against your property manager. You had the terms clearly spelled
in your management contract and unless the management company received
your specific permission to deviate from the contract then they would
be responsible. I would send them a demand letter that they either
repair the damage or pay for the repairs.
YOU'RE A TENANT OR LANDLORD, the authors stand ready to
answer your questions in this column, although letters
cannot be answered individually. Write them at: Rental
Roundtable, Homes Section, San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O.
Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191. Or you may e-mail
them at email@example.com
2000 Rental Roundtable
Robert Griswold and the Real Estate
Today! radio show strongly support the intent and the letter of all federal and
state fair housing laws. As a reminder to all owners and managers of real
estate, note that all real estate advertised is subject to the Federal Fair
Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise "any preference,
limitation, discrimination because of race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex,
physical disability, or familial status, or intention to make any such
preference, limitation or discrimination." Additional state and/or local
fair housing laws may also apply. Be sure to inform all persons that all
dwellings offered or advertised are on an equal opportunity basis.
Revised and Updated -
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Robert S. Griswold, CRE, CPM, CCIM,
PCAM, GRI, ARM
Griswold Corporate Center
Griswold Real Estate Management, Inc.
5703 Oberlin Drive, Suite 300
San Diego, CA 92121-1743
Phone: (858) 597-6100
Fax: (858) 597-6161
©2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996 Robert S. Griswold.
All Rights Reserved.