Question: I have a severe back problem. To reduce my pain the doctor has recommended that I sleep on a water bed, but the apartment manager says water beds are not allowed. I can get a letter from my doctor. What are my rights?
Answer: You have the right to a reasonable accommodation due to your disability. Although landlords may have rules or policies that they can enforce, tenants with disabilities are entitled to exceptions where necessary.
In this situation, the landlord would need to accommodate your disability by allowing a water bed, unless he or she could show that the water bed posed an undue financial burden on the business, in which case the accommodation would be unreasonable.
The landlord also could request that you obtain that note from your doctor stating your need for the accommodation.
Be aware that you may be asked to increase your security deposit if you are a month-to-month tenant. Civil Code Section 1940.5(h) allows for a security deposit of 2 1/2 times the monthly rent for unfurnished property and 3 1/2 times for furnished property when a tenant has a water bed. For those on leases, the increased deposit can be requested when the lease is renewed.
This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service. Questions may be sent to 1055 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, Suite 3, Sunnyvale, CA 94087, but cannot be answered individually. For housing discrimination questions, complaints or help, call the Southern California Housing Rights Center at (800) 477-5977.