Stephen A. Martin, Attorney at Law
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Retirement home accused of violating landlord-tenant law

Most in Saint Charles would likely limit the extent of the landlord-tenant relationship to either businesses leasing commercial space or individuals paying for single-unit rental properties. Yet there are a number of other special business relationships that deal with residency that might also fall into this category. An unfamiliarity with these unique situations may be the reason why local property owners are so surprised to learn that legal issues that they are faced fall under landlord-tenant law. Thus, one should seek to clearly define the relationship that exists between them and their residential clients in order to be better prepared to respond to potential accusations of wrongdoing. 

A retirement home in Massachusetts is currently having to deal with a dispute that was likely never anticipated: a lawsuit citing the Fair Housing Act. The facility itself is not licensed as a nursing home, rehab facility or skilled nursing center; instead, it rents individual rooms to elderly residents and offers its tenants shared services (such as community meals, as well as laundry and housekeeping services). It also asks residents to participate in mealtime religious devotionals. 

A current resident is suing the facility claiming that it is discriminating against him on the basis of his religious beliefs and his disabilities. His legal representation claims that forcing him to participate in religious activities is illegal, and that the facility would not allow accommodations to be made for him after he suffered a disabling fall. 

As the property in this case does not fall under the purview of elder care facilities, standard landlord-tenant law may apply. Those who offer unique residential services such as those described above may be wise to seek the counsel of an attorney to understand exactly what regulatory standards they are held to. 

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