Disabled Tenants and Live-in Caregivers
The Federal Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the California State Law Against Discrimination, and local fair housing laws require that housing owners
and managers provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and residents who have disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are changes
in rules, policies, practices, or services that are necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a
dwelling. Allowing tenants who have disabilities to utilize the assistance of live-in caregivers is a reasonable
What is a Disability?
Under fair housing laws, a person is considered to be disabled if s/he has a sensory, mental or
physical condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities (such as walking, seeing, hearing, working, etc.). The state
law definition includes disabilities that are temporary or permanent, common or uncommon, mitigated or unmitigated.
DEFINITION OF LIVE-IN CAREGIVER
Although there is no definition of a live-in caregiver in the fair housing laws, regulations for
HUD-subsidized housing provide a useful definition. Using the HUD regulations as guidance, a live-in caregiver may be defined as a person
who resides with a person(s) with disabilities2 who is:
essential to the care and well being
of the person(s);
not obligated to support the person(s)
with the disabilities; and
would not be living in the unit
except to provide the necessary supportive services.
Although a live-in caregiver is an
occupant of the unit, the caregiver is not considered a tenant for the
purpose of income qualification and is not liable for paying rent.
Because a live-in caregiver only lives in the unit for the purpose of
providing supportive services for a person with a disability, the
caregiver has no right to continue living in the unit if the tenant with
the disability moves out.
HUD uses the term “live-in aide.
Residents of HUD-subsidized
housing who are elderly or near-elderly also may request live-in aides.
For more information about this, contact the housing authority or
HUD-assisted property owner.
Can a Landlord verify that a live-in
caregiver is necessary?
Yes. Housing providers are entitled to
the existence of the disability if it
is not readily apparent,
the need for the accommodation if it
is not readily apparent, and
that the caregiver is qualified to
provide the supportive services that are needed because of the
If you or your manager asks for this
verification, the tenant should obtain a signed letter from his/her
doctor or other medical professional, or other qualified third party
who, in their professional capacity, has knowledge about the disability
and the Tenant's need for the caregiver. The Tenant does not have to
provide details about the disability or about the specific supportive
services that the caregiver will provide.
NOTE: A verification letter stating that the caregiver would be
“nice” or “helpful” is insufficient.
What if my caregiver is a relative?
There is no rule against a relative being
the tenant's live-in caregiver provided the caregiver is essential to
the Tenant's care and well being, not obligated to support him/her, and
would not be living in the unit except to provide the necessary
supportive services. If the Tenant's live-in caregiver is a relative, it
would be reasonable for a landlord to follow HUD’s policy of requiring
the relative to sign a statement prior to moving into the unit
relinquishing all rights to the unit in the event that the Tenant
decides to move out.
Are live-in caregivers to be listed on
the lease as an Occupant, but not as a Lessee – not responsible for the
terms and financial aspects of the lease?
If you wish to list a live-in caregiver
on the lease, it would be as an occupant and not as a lessee.
The Tenant is responsible for a caregiver's behavior on the premises
whether or not the caregiver lives in the unit. If ;the Tenant knows, or
has reason to know, that the caregiver is engaging in wrong-doing, the
Tenant has an obligation to do something about it. If he/she does
nothing, the you may be able to take action against the Tenant
What happens if the Tenant moves out
and the caregiver refuses to move?
In some cases, a caregiver may wish to
remain as a resident and you can require the live-in caregiver to submit
a rental application and meet the standard tenancy qualifications. If,
however, the caregiver refuses to move or to apply for tenancy, the you
can follow the start the process for eviction.
It's important that you remember when starting the eviction process, you
are evicting the Tenant, even if the Tenant has vacated.
If the Tenant was occupying under a Lease, and the Lease has expired,
then the eviction process can start without any notice.
If the Lease has expired an the tenant has remained paying rent, then
the lease has converted to a Month to Month Tenancy, and you will most
likely be giving the Tenant a 3 Day Notice to Pay or quit. If you
accept rent from the Care Giver after the Tenant has vacated, you have
created a month to month tenancy with the Care Giver, in which case you
will need to serve a 30 day notice terminating a Month to Month Tenancy,
prior to commencing the eviction process.