It’s not uncommon for an assisted living facility to try to force a resident out, or to refuse to renew the person’s lease.
Often, the reason is that the facility believes that the resident’s condition has deteriorated to the point where it can no longer provide all the services that he or she needs.
But there might be other reasons, too. Some facilities don’t want to keep people who are eligible for Medicaid, even if the facility is approved to participate in Medicaid. And sometimes a resident is simply viewed as a “troublemaker.”
If you or someone you know is facing an assisted living discharge that you believe is unfair, it may be possible to fight it. The legal rules, however, are often unclear, and vary a great deal from location to location.
In some states, for instance, an assisted living resident is considered a tenant just like any other tenant. So if the “landlord” tries to evict someone and the tenant refuses to leave, the landlord will have to go to court, and the tenant will be able to argue his or her side of the case before a judge.
In other states, it’s unclear whether landlord-tenant law applies, and if a tenant refuses to leave, the facility might be uncertain how to proceed. Either way, if the eviction really is unfair, the facility might be willing to find a compromise rather than go to court.
Some states have specific legal procedures by which you can object to a discharge. In these states, you might be able to file a complaint with the licensing board, or have a right to an administrative hearing.
In a few cases, it’s possible to claim that an eviction amounts to “disability discrimination.” Several federal laws say that landlords cannot discriminate against tenants on the basis of a physical or mental disability, and must reasonably accommodate them unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.
So, for example, if you’re being discharged because you’re now in a wheelchair and your assisted living apartment doesn’t have a ramp, you might be able to argue that the facility is required to install a ramp as a reasonable accommodation.
In general, fighting a discharge successfully is difficult, and it’s best to consult with a lawyer about your rights rather than trying to handle it on your own.
If you have more questions about your rights in assisted living facilities, contact Attorney Kristina Vickstrom at 508-757-3800 or contact her online.