Q: We just bought a rental property with elderly tenants in the upstairs unit. They don’t get around very well, and I expect one of them will soon be in a wheelchair. Are we legally obligated to rebuild the stairs if this happens? –Anna W.
A: When any tenant becomes disabled and requests special accommodations (in policies or physical changes to common areas) or modifications (of their rented space), landlords must listen. Specifically, landlords must discuss the requests and explore all reasonable options or alternatives. Tenants typically pay for modifications of their rented space (except in Massachusetts and in federally financed properties); landlords shoulder the cost of modifying common areas. The stairway to the tenants’ door is a common area, like a walkway.