You may dream of owning your home or place of business, but renting is more affordable. Plenty of other people are in the same position, so this is a booming business. Part of a landlord’s responsibilities is creating a usable space for all tenants, which means complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The ADA became law in 1990 to protect both tenants and renters in cases that could involve disability discrimination. Before you sign your next lease for your home or business, check out what every tenant should know about ADA compliance. Renters are responsible for more than you might think, so it’s essential to fully understand what you’re walking into.
1. Both parties are responsible
People with disabilities are protected by the ADA, specifically when it comes to Title III. This requires landlords to make rental spaces accessible for anyone with a disability so they can access the property equally. They must modify their properties to meet current ADA regulations, which was last updated in 2010.
In the case of renting a commercial or residential unit, both parties are responsible for ensuring they meet ADA requirements. Before signing on the dotted line, discuss any needed additions or renovations and who’s responsible for paying for them. It’s supposed to be a team effort, which can result in liability exposure for the landlord if they don’t comply.
2. Auxiliary aids are included
Hearing and vision impairments sometimes get overlooked during building construction, but they’re part of Title III. Depending on the agreement with your landlord, they may cover most or half of the bill for aids like notetakers, Braille additions or signs in larger print.
3. Accessibility modifications may count
Your landlord may try to fight against paying for accessibility modifications if they want to cut corners. Still, they must pay the full bill if the changes count as reasonable modifications, like installing a ramp to get into the unit. Vertical lifts and elevators may also join the accessibility options list, depending on the renter’s disability.
Reasonable modifications are mostly defined by how inexpensive and quick the projects are, but the landlord should pay the total bill if they haven’t provided an accessible property.
4. Both parties designate responsibility
Most commercial leases leave room for tenants and landlords to allocate responsibility before they become official. Depending on the tenant’s financial capabilities, the two parties will decide what they’ll pay for regarding unmet ADA compliance. The finer details, if any, will vary depending on the lease.
Even after both parties agree on their responsibilities, tenants may have to go a step further. Read through your lease to see if there’s language indicating you need to provide your landlord with a lawyer if they’re the subject of an ADA lawsuit. They’ll still legally have to meet their agreed-upon responsibilities, but tenants could have to pay for their legal representation if it’s outlined in the lease.
5. Landlords deal with common areas
Even though your rental space may be ADA compliant, the areas surrounding it could be challenging to access. Because spaces like sidewalks and parking lots aren’t included in your lease, landlords are responsible for them.
If you have any issues accessing your rental unit because these areas don’t have the disability modifications you need, your landlord should fix them at no cost to you.
6. Injunctive relief is common
Some renters may seek financial compensation for their time or efforts in dealing with inaccessible spaces, but most of the time, that’s not possible. The majority of states won’t allow plaintiffs to receive monetary damages or compensation under Title III. Still, you may be responsible for attorney fees and costs after the case gets settled in court. The majority of cases end with injunctive relief, where one or both parties work to solve the issues at hand.
The only time plaintiffs might get damages at the end of a case is if the U.S. Attorney General files an action based on a pattern of discrimination on the part of the landlord. The fines then may include financial compensation or back pay as needed.
Get everything in writing
Both tenants and landlords should get everything in writing as they work to come to an agreement about who’s responsible for which ADA compliance issues. If something goes wrong in the future and one party files a complaint in court, documented terms and signed paperwork will help sort through the problem and come to the best solution for everyone.
The post ADA Compliance: What Renters Need to Know appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.
Paying the annual fee on a credit card doesn’t mean you’re wasting your money.
In fact, the top travel and rewards credit cards offer welcome bonuses that are worth considerably more than their annual fees, and that’s on top of the cardholder perks and benefits you can receive.
Case in point: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card* charges $95 per year, yet the sign-up bonus of 60,000 points is worth $750 on its own. Meanwhile, the more luxurious Chase Sapphire Reserve charges a $550 annual fee, but the sign-up bonus is worth $750 in travel, and you get perks like a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every four years, Priority Pass Select membership (valued at $429), a $300 travel credit and more.
Still, a problem can arise when you can’t use the benefits your card offers – or when you cannot (or don’t want to) pay the annual fee anymore.
In that case, you should know credit card issuers can be surprisingly receptive to cardholders who may not be excited about paying their credit card’s annual fee another year. With this in mind, you have some options that can help you avoid annual fees, get something in return or switch credit cards altogether.
See related: When is a credit card annual fee worth it?
You may have more power than you think
According to Howard Dvorkin, CPA and chairman of Debt.com, it’s always worth it for consumers to negotiate their credit card fees or terms. Whether a consumer will get their fees waived is another question, but “it never hurts to ask,” he said.
This is especially true in light of the coronavirus pandemic. As we all know, credit card issuers have been fairly generous when it comes to offering struggling customers relief, with some extending options for deferred payments or waived fees. As an example, a March 2020 statement from Capital One CEO Rich Fairbank noted that the bank was offering assistance to its customers, such as “waiving fees or deferring payments on credit cards or auto loans.”
Dvorkin says consumers can improve their chances of getting their annual fee waived if they have a history of responsible credit use. In some cases, it may be possible to have an annual fee waived altogether, while in others, an account credit may be offered to take the sting out of the fee.
Some credit card issuers even have their own “retention offers” meant to entice you into keeping your card. For example, American Express is known for offering a set number of points for customers who agree to renew their card and pay an annual fee for another year. Sometimes a specific amount of spending is required on the card as well.
On the FlyerTalk website, you’ll even find a running guide of retention offers from several different card issuers, including Amex. After you dig through it, you can find that, as recently as January 2021, at least one person was offered 50,000 Membership Rewards points to renew their Platinum Card from American Express.
See related: Which cards earn American Express rewards points?
6 tips for negotiating annual fees
But how do you make sure you have as much leverage as possible? We interviewed the experts to find out their best tips for negotiating credit card fees:
1. Use the card
Lending expert John Li of Fig Loans says you’ll have the best chances at negotiating your credit card’s annual fee if you use your card frequently.
“At the end of the day, doing so makes the bank money, and a steady flow of transactions puts you in front of the credit card issuer as a worthy customer to build a long-term professional relationship with,” he says.
2. Be respectful
Dvorkin recommends keeping a level head before you pick up the phone. Take the time to state your case, but don’t fly off the handle if you don’t get your way.
“Credit card issuers get angry calls from cardholders all the time, so it helps consumers to be positive when calling to get a fee waived,” he says.
3. Negotiate by phone
While some card issuers like American Express have an online chat feature, you may have better luck negotiating with a customer service agent over the phone. In fact, phone agents can usually perform more services on your behalf versus agents you speak to via online chat.
4. Have a legitimate grievance
Nishank Khanna, CEO of business lender Clarify Capital, says you’ll have a better shot at negotiating if you have a compelling reason for not wanting to pay an annual fee.
“If you’re having this conversation with your lender to begin with, you’ll want to be able to articulate a logical reason for why you deserve to have the fee removed or reduced,” he says. “Customer service representatives are often receptive to legitimate reasons and may have a policy in place to help accommodate customers with specific concerns or circumstances.”
5. Leverage the competition
Khanna also says you can point to other card issuers that may have a better deal right now. Have competitors waived their fees? If you’re looking to knock off a fee on a travel credit card because you haven’t been able to use the card during the pandemic, for example, you should find out how other card issuers are handling the situation.
6. If you’re not satisfied, call again
Persistence can pay off when it comes to negotiating credit card fees and terms. Not only that, but you don’t have to accept the first “no” you receive. If you don’t get the answer you want, you can always try the famous “HUCA” method, which asks you to hang up and try again. You may be connected to a different agent who is more agreeable.
See related: Does applying for a credit card by phone boost approval odds?
What to do when the issuer won’t budge
If you are trying to negotiate an annual fee but can’t seem to make any progress, keep in mind that other options may make just as much sense.
For starters, Dvorkin says consumers who find they cannot negotiate their card’s annual fee should consider opening a credit card that doesn’t have an annual fee and closing their old one.
Note that closing a credit card can lower your credit score by reducing your overall available credit. Depending on how high the card’s credit limit is and what balances you have on other cards, this could raise your credit utilization ratio and lower your score. But this may be a risk worth taking if you can no longer afford your card’s annual fee.
Also, keep in mind some card issuers might let you downgrade your credit card to another card they offer that doesn’t charge an annual fee. You will probably earn a lower rewards rate and get fewer perks if you take this route, but moving your line of credit to a different card won’t cause damage to your credit score like closing an account can.
*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.
Sending cash to friends and family? Before you reach for that credit card, grab a calculator. Itâs time to do a little math.
With most everything you purchase online or through apps, credit cards have the edge. With plastic, you have chargeback rights. If youâre overcharged or receive the wrong item, broken merchandise or nothing at all, your card issuer will make it right. And if you use a rewards card, you collect points or miles, too. Win-win.
But itâs different story when youâre sending money through peer-to-peer platforms. Many of them (like Google Pay, Popmoney and Zelle), donât allow consumers to use a credit card to send cash.
Others (like Cash App, PayPal and Venmo), allow credit cards but also charge a fee for the privilege â often about 3%.
See related: How to choose a P2P payment service
The hidden costs of using credit cards to send money
Choose a credit card to send money and you might also end up paying additional fees to your card issuer. Thatâs because the combination of some peer-to-peer apps with certain cards are coded as cash advances, rather than purchases.
For many cards, that cash advance code triggers a higher interest rate that kicks in the moment you make the transaction, as well as a separate cash advance fee thatâs often $10 or 5% of the transaction â whichever is higher. (Currently, the average interest rate for cash advances is 24.8%, while the average APR for purchases is 16.05%.)
So the combination of peer-to-peer service fees, credit card cash advance fees and that higher interest rate (with no grace period) could make sending a few hundred dollars a bit more costly than youâd planned.
No chargeback rights with credit cards
The real kicker: Unlike other venues, you donât have chargeback rights when you use credit cards to make peer-to-peer money transfers.
When you present your credit card in an online or brick-and-mortar store, thereâs a merchant involved â and the law provides chargeback rights for your protection in case you donât get what you were promised in the deal. But in a peer-to-peer money transfer, thereâs no merchant, so currently the laws donât give consumers any chargeback rights, says Christina Tetreault, manager of financial policy for Consumer Reports.
âThe chargeback right requires a merchant,â says Tetreault. âOne of the hoops a consumer has to jump through is to try and work it out with the merchant.â
If you use a peer-to-peer service and send the wrong amount or send the money to the wrong person, most platforms advise that the only way to get it back is to contact the recipient and ask them to return it. And thatâs often the same whether you use a credit card, debit card, bank account or funded account on the platform.
âBe doubly sure when youâre sending the money that youâre putting in the correct information,â says John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud for the National Consumers League. âItâs still a buyer beware world when it comes to peer-to-peer.â
If youâre sending money and want to use a credit card, it pays to do a little sleuthing first. Check out the peer-to-peer site. Does it allow users to send money with a credit card? If so what, if any, fees does it charge?
On some platforms (PayPal is one), you could see similar fees for using a debit card â while sending from a bank account or funded account on the platform is free.
The good news is that many peer-to-peer platforms clearly disclose it when thereâs an extra charge to use a credit card, says Tetreault. With Venmo, for example, youâll get a pop-up message.
Harder to decipher: Will credit card transactions on the platform be treated as a cash advance? If your preferred platform doesnât post this information, you might need to contact customer service. (And how quickly and easily you get an answer can tell you a lot, too.)
Ask your card issuer the same question: Are peer-to-peer money transfers on the platform youâve chosen treated as a cash advance? If they are, whatâs the interest rate, and whatâs the cash advance fee?
âWhat I would suggest is to ask that question, via email, of your financial institution,â says Tetreault. âIt may be in their FAQs. And you want to save that email. If you have it in writing, if thereâs an issue later, youâre better positioned to contest that fee.â
But âthe hard truth is you may not be able to find out ahead of time,â she says.
Another solution: Opt to use a credit card issued by a credit union.
âWith credit unions, the APR is usually the sameâ for purchases and cash advances, says John Bratsakis, president and CEO of the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association.
Likewise, with American Express cards you pay your regular interest rate and no cash advance fees on peer-to-peer transfers, says Elizabeth Crosta, vice president of public affairs for American Express.
And credit cards from U.S. Bank register peer-to-peer money transfers as regular purchases â with no cash advance fees or cash advance APRs, says Rick Rothacker, spokesperson for the bank.
See related: How do credit card APRs work?
Whatâs your reason for using a credit card?
Take a good look at the reason youâre using a credit card, too. If you want chargeback rights, thatâs not an option. If youâre doing it for the rewards, will the value of those points or miles be eaten up by extra fees or a higher interest rate you have to pay to use the card?
And if youâre using a card because you donât have the cash, that might be a good reason to rethink the idea of sending money in the first place.
Thatâs a huge red flag, says Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations at theÂ National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
âThe need to convert credit into cash is what really gets my attention â because that hints at a lack of savings,â he said. âItâs a reality a lot of people are facing, especially now.â
Cash advances arenât as expensive or risky as payday loans and car title loans, but they should be among your last resorts. If you’re looking for short-term relief, you could ask your credit card issuer for help, or find out if you qualify for a personal loan. You could also borrow from a family member or trusted friend, but be wary of the potential relationship toll if you can’t pay them back.
Getting cash from credit cards
Fifty-two percent of Americans report that the pandemic has damaged their finances, according to a recent survey by the NFCC. More than a fifth of those had to tap savings for everyday expenses, while 16% increased their credit card spending.
And thatâs a sign of financial stress, says McClary. âIt means that, in some situations, they have run out of savings.â
There are ways you can use your card to get cash, though.
Cashing in rewards
Some rewards cards from issuers such as Chase, Bank of America and US Bank let you deposit cash-back rewards directly to your bank account.
And Wells Fargo also will let you deposit its Go Far Rewards directly into another Wells Fargo customerâs account, says Sarah DuBois, spokesperson for the bank.
Many credit cards let you convert rewards into retail gift cards. So a pile of points can help a friend or family member buy much-needed groceries or a few holiday presents.
Or simply âbuy a gift card for someone,â says Bratsakis.
Retailer-specific gift cards and gift cards issued through local and regional retail associations and malls often come with no fees â meaning every dollar you spend goes toward your gift.
While you can get a cash advance or use convenience checks from your card issuer, both those options often come with fees and higher interest rates. Not a smart money move, especially in the current economy.
While some lenders may offer convenience checks with deferred interest, thatâs not the same as âno interest,â says Bratsakis. Also, if you donât pay the loan in full, will you owe the full interest retroactively?
âThatâs where consumers have to be careful,â he says. With a convenience check or even a cash advance, âthatâs usually where consumers can get themselves into trouble if they canât pay it off and get hit with deferred interest.â
See related: What is deferred interest?
When it comes to peer-to-peer payments, cash really is king. You can then put it into a funded account with the money transfer platform or your bank account. And most peer-to-peer platforms let you do this for free.
âThe safest way to use these services is to send money person-to-person and be diligent about getting all the details correct so it doesnât go to the wrong person,â says Tetreault.
Only send to people you trust and know in real life, she says. âAnd before sending money make sure you understand what, if any, fees you might incur.â