Fair Housing and Live-In Aides – What You Need To Know

Live-in aides present a unique challenge to housing providers. This article will focus on the main points of what you need to know and how having the right policies and procedures in place will aid in fair housing compliance.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Fair Housing and Live-In Aides – What You Need To Know

A tenant requesting a live-in aide raises many questions. Does your property have a verification process in place to handle these requests? Leslie from Williams, Edelstein, and Tucker P.C. shares her insights on the top questions every property should understand or be asking.

When Should a Tenant Be Approved for a Live-In Aid?

A live-in aide should be considered for a tenant that is disabled and requires full-time care. Keep in mind that a request for a live-in aide should be viewed as a reasonable accommodation since the live-in aide is not considered an occupant and is not on the unit lease, and is solely living there to render aid to that tenant.

What Type of Properties Receive Live-In Aide Requests?

Basically, while we do see more of these requests from senior living properties, live-in aide requests can happen at any type of property. This can become even more complicated when it comes to subsidized housing. Subsidized housing providers need to remember that you cannot consider a live-in aide’s income when determining the rent. You can only consider the income of the people actually listed on the lease.

Common Live-In Aide Scenario

A call just came into your leasing office from a tenant. She wants to know the availability of a larger unit since her daughter is coming to stay with her, as her doctor has advised that she should no longer live alone. That one phone call has just created a whole lot of questions.

Many properties wonder if a family member can be considered a live-in aid. The short answer is yes, as long as the sole purpose the family member is moving into the unit is to render care to the tenant.

The next thing to consider would be the request for a larger unit. Essentially this should be reviewed along with or after the need for a live-in aide. If a need has been determined, then you can address if a larger unit is also needed.

What Questions Can Be Asked When Verifying These Requests?

First of all, you only need to go through the verification process if the disability or need is not readily apparent. That being said, many disabilities are not obvious and will require further investigation. This is where well-thought-out live-in aide request and verification forms come into play. Customized forms should ask specific questions such as:

  • Does the tenant have a need that requires 24-hour care?
  • How many hours per day does the tenant require assistance?
  • What type of services are involved in the tenant’s care?
  • Will the live-in aide be a permanent arrangement or an extended long-term situation?

These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered to determine the need for a live-in aide. By having a form that asks pertinent and direct questions, you are assured of getting all the information needed to make a proper determination of need.

Live-In Aide Final Takeaway

Live-in aide requests do not need to send you running for the hills. Having the right forms, policies, and procedures in place ahead of time will help you seamlessly navigate the request, determine the need, and render a decision.

Jonathan (00:12): Hello everyone. Welcome to episode 58 of the Fair Housing Insiders. We are looking forward to another fantastic addition. Today, we are talking about live in aids and some fair housing best practices to think about in regards to that topic. So joining me today is Leslie Tucker from Williams Edelstein and Tucker. Leslie, how are you today?

Leslie (00:35): I'm great, thanks Jonathan. Glad to be back.

Jonathan (00:37): Yeah, nice to have you on the show again. So, just a couple housekeeping items. If you haven't already subscribed to us on YouTube, please do that so that you're aware of any new episodes that we publish and also sign up for our newsletter because not only do we let the community know about these episodes, but we always have extra fair housing information that we love to share with you. And please follow us on Instagram at Fair Housing Institute. So, as we mentioned at the outset today, we're talking about live-in aids and we've got some questions for Leslie to kind of give us a, a bit of an overview of like, why we're talking about it and diving into this, that scenario. When should a tenant be approved for live-in aid? We'll kind of kick the discussion off. So Leslie, kick it to you. Give us an idea about live-in aid and fair housing and when can a tenant be approved to have a live-in aid?

Leslie (01:37): Yeah, so a live-in aid is necessary for a tenant who is disabled, who needs basically full time care so as to justify the caregiver moving in with them and living in their unit so they are available to care for this person the disabled tenant, you know, whenever they need that care. The reason that a live-in aid is considered to be a reasonable accommodation is because live-in aids are not considered to be you know, an occupant of the unit on the lease. So it's basically someone who is living in the unit who is not actually on your lease which is, you know, basically an exception or change to your typical policies. It's an even bigger deal in subsidized housing because in subsidized housing, obviously, you know, everyone, every adult occupant of the unit, their income is considered in calculating the household's monthly rent. So if there's an extra person living in the unit you know, who is a live-in aid, their income cannot be considered when calculating monthly rent. So you know, the process that you're following when considering those types of requests in subsidized housing is kind of even more I don't wanna say strict, but it's more important that you are thoroughly following your policies, potentially verifying those requests if needed.

Jonathan (03:24): All right. Very good. Very good. So thank you for that. So kind of a sidebar question. I know we talked about this when we were preparing for this episode. So does this, besides a couple of housing ones that you mentioned there, is this, do you see this more in senior living housing or does this apply to, to someone who may have a disability and requires a live-in aid? Or is there any like little, you know, granular items when it comes to those types of situations?

Leslie (04:00): Well, live-in aids can be requested at any type of property any type of funding multi-family, senior housing. Certainly you do see it more in senior housing just because that need is is greater there it's more prevalent in senior housing, but the process that you would follow and the questions that you would potentially ask in a verification don't really change. You know, whether you're in a multifamily housing property or senior or you know, the funding doesn't, the process doesn't change.

Jonathan (04:36): Yeah. Okay. Good. Good. I think our you know, listening to your explanation and just kind of like dawned on me, it's just, you know, is it very specific. So I think that's very helpful to our audience to know that, you know, it could happen at any, any type of property that they may be managing. So appreciate that, that clarification. So let's circle back now. So we have someone who is requesting a live in aid they're looking for approval. What are some questions that should be asked what when they're, when they're as a property management, as a management company, when they're trying to verify those requests?

Leslie (05:14): Yeah, so for live in aid, just similar to any other type of reasonable accommodation request, you only want to verify those requests that are not already obvious. So if the disability is not obvious or if the need for a full-time caregiver is not obvious, that's the only time that you would verify. Honestly, I think that the majority of these requests probably are not going to be obvious to the extent that, you know, a manager will just know that someone needs a full-time caregiver to live with them. Most of the time you would probably verify. So when, when asking questions and I've said this on on other episodes as well, I do think it's important that you have a, either a special form or customize your typical verification form to ask some specific questions regarding, you know, aid requests. On my website, on my firm's website, fair housing firm.com, I do have one of these forms that is available that is already customized with some of these questions on it.

(06:28): But what I would recommend asking in these requests are, you know, things like you know, do you, does this tenant have a need for a full-time caregiver to be available, you know, 24/7 to them how many hours per day does this person, you know, need care? What type of services are involved in, you know, this person's necessary care? And all those, all those questions are necessary in order for you to figure out if someone needs to live there in order to provide these services. Cause lots of people need care or would benefit from care, but a lot of times, you know, someone coming in once a day or someone, someone coming in several times a week would be sufficient. And so having a live aid kind of takes it to a whole other level of care. And asking those kind of directed questions allows you to get to whether that person really does need this extra level of care. You can inquire into whether this person needs these services on a permanent basis or, you know, an extended long term basis. That's another relevant point as to whether someone needs to move in in order to provide those services.

Jonathan (07:57): Okay. Very good. Thank you for that. Lots of lots of things to think about and appreciate you referencing what's on fair housing firm.com for our audience. So we'll make sure we put a link to that, that live-in aid request template that you have for that form that you have so our audience can take advantage of that. So yeah, thank you for that. We appreciate you answering that question. So that kind of leads us into an interesting scenario and I look forward to your comments on this. So our scenario for today is an older female tenant who requests, requests a live-in aid, who is her daughter and wants to transfer to a larger apartment. So let's take a look at the scenario and then we'll, we'll jump back in here and, and get your comments on it.

Prospect (08:52): I, I was wondering if you have a two bedroom apartment available starting next month?

Leasing Agent (08:59): Sure. I can look into that for you. Mrs. Pringle, do you have someone moving in with you?

Prospect (09:06): Yes. My doctor says I shouldn't be living alone anymore, so I will have my daughter move in with me. Do I have to fill out a form for that? She will be acting as my live-in aid.

Jonathan (09:20): So that's an interesting scenario. So thank you Leslie.

Leslie (09:22): So in this-

Jonathan (09:23): This is yeah, sorry, just I found it really, really interesting, so appreciate looking forward to your comments. Go ahead. Sorry, .

Leslie (09:32): So in this scenario I think there's really two issues at play. The first issue is, you know, whether someone can legitimately request a family member to come be their living aid. This is really, really common and it happens all the time that someone requests maybe an adult child even maybe a spouse to come live with them to be their live aid. I know this might set off maybe some alarm bells in manager's heads. Maybe it should, but the law does not prohibit this. You know, family members can legitimately act as a living aid as long as you are able to determine that that person, you know, wouldn't have been living in that unit otherwise. So in other words, you need to determine that that person is moving in for the sole purpose of providing care to the tenant.

(10:45): If you discover some additional facts that may call that into question I think there may be a need to do some additional investigation, ask some different questions regarding why that person may actually be moving in. And this is a, as I said, this is a really big deal when it comes to federally subsidized properties because there really shouldn't be anyone living in the unit whose income is not counted unless they absolutely need to be there for a disability related reason. So that's the first issue. The second issue is can someone legitimately ask for a larger unit for, for an extra bedroom, let's say, because they have a live in aid? And the answer is yes, that is a legitimate reason to ask to transfer to a larger unit or maybe a unit with a different layout. In the case of maybe studios versus one bedrooms because they have a live-in aid, obviously you would want to go about your process to verify and approve that live-in aid first before approving any request to transfer the person to a larger unit. But those two things could go hand in hand, you know, in, in a real life scenario. Yes.

Jonathan (12:18): Okay. Very good. I'm confident that's all the things that we're going through our audience's mind there on, well what if this situation, what if that situation, and I think this scenario really covered a lot of those, those maybe in some of our minds, maybe questionable requests, you know, we're like, well, what's the really? But it really comes down to what the law is and that's, we appreciate your explanation of that. So we always look forward to our fair housing fast five and Michael was very kind enough to give our guests a little extra time. I think he actually beat the 90 seconds in one of our more recent episodes. So we've gone from 60 to 90 seconds. So are you ready, Leslie?

Leslie (13:14): I think I'm ready.

Jonathan (13:16): Okay, here we go. Can you require that a medical doctor verify attendance need for a live-in aid?

Leslie (13:28): Yes. A request for a live-in aid is one of the only types of reasonable accommodation request that you can actually require a doctor sign off.

Jonathan (13:38): Perfect. What can you do if the need for a live in aid appears to have changed?

Leslie (13:47): I think if the need appears to have changed, you should address that question with the tenant first and possibly re-verify the need for the live aid.

Jonathan (13:58): Can a family member be a live-in aid?

Leslie (14:03): Yes. Any type of family member can be a live-in aid as long as they are only living there to provide care for the tenant.

Jonathan (14:11): Do you need to verify the need for a larger unit due to a live in aid?

Leslie (14:19): No. I don't think that that would be something that you would need to verify really if a live in aid has been approved, you should, you know, approve the, the request for a transfer to a a larger unit if they need.

Jonathan (14:34): Can you screen a live in a live aid for landlord history?

Leslie (14:42): Absolutely. And I would, you can't, you can go beyond just criminal history and I think someone's landlord history is absolutely relevant to what kind of occupants are going to be at your property.

Jonathan (14:54): Very good. So close, Leslie. So close. So you, it was a minute 37, so just a little bit over seven seconds over. So sorry. You don't get Yeah, , you don't get the one Quintilian quintillion Grand Prize, but very good. Nice summary. I love these fast five questions. It really just gives our audience a a nice re review of what you've been taught today. And we thank you Leslie, for being on the show. So be sure to check her out fairhousingfirm.com. She's a national speaker and she also has all kinds of policy inform templates available. But like I said earlier, we'll definitely have a link to the one that she referenced for Live-in aids. That'll be in the show notes, so be sure to check that out. And we thank at all of you for tune tuning into our show, episode 58. It's amazing how many we've put together so far, and we've been able to continue because of your support. So if you find this show valuable, this education session valuable, please share it with your network. Give us those thumbs up and we would love to have your feedback and, and keep in mind that we have on a regular basis our community questions that we enter into a, a drawing for all those questions that come in. So if you have any questions on this episode, make sure you make your comments in, in our, on our YouTube channel. So thank you everyone. Until next time, we'll see you soon. Take care.

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