I have heard from two clients with variations on what I suspect may be the next type of request professional apartment management receives from residents during this time of the Coronavirus: a request to terminate a lease early (without penalty) because a resident is vulnerable to catching the virus. The request will be couched as one for a reasonable accommodation and it might well be verified by a health care practitioner.

As written here and elsewhere, a prerequisite to have a reasonable accommodation request granted by management is that the resident be currently disabled (as the term is defined under federal law). To be sure, there are circumstances under which early termination of a lease can be an appropriate accommodation to assist a disabled resident. For example, someone who lives on the third floor of a building (without an elevator) and is in a serious car accident which leaves her with a long term mobility disability such that she cannot climb stairs. In such a case, the resident is not able to reach her unit and, as such, because of her disability one type of accommodation would be to permit her to terminate the lease early, while waiving all fees and/or penalties.

What I am seeing now, however, is a presumptive “I will get disabled if I get the Coronavirus and, as such, I need to move now and you should let me out of my lease.” In my discussions, I have started calling this not a reasonable accommodation request, but a request for a “Compassionate Medical Termination” as it reflects what might happen if the resident catches the virus. There is, of course, no law or guidance yet on this point as we are less than a month into COVID-19 and dealing with the pandemic. I am open to other thoughts, but for now I believe it is up to management to decide if a Compassionate Medical Termination is something you wish to do as a courtesy should you receive such a request.

Just A Thought.