The most common reasonable accommodation requests Fair Housing Advocates, Inc. sees being made by disabled persons seeking housing are those addressing their need for an assistance animal [service dog or emotional support animal] when the housing provider has a rule which either forbids animals, limits the breed or size of the animal, or limits where the disable person can bring their assistance animal on the property- like the pool area, for example. Other popular accommodations include the request to have additional handicap parking spaces added, or a request to have a personal handicap parking space created just for the disabled tenant.
There are many other kinds of accommodation requests that can be made by a disabled person under the Fair Housing Act. In fact, there is no limit to the types of requests that can be made by a disabled person, as long as the necessary elements exist to warrant the granting of an accommodation request.
So, what is a reasonable accommodation? According to HUD:
A “reasonable accommodation” is a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, including public and common use spaces. [see Joint Statement of The Department of Housing and Urban Development and The Department of Justice, Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act]
The operative word is “necessary” when it comes to granting an accommodation request. Would the disabled person be able to fully use and enjoy the property without the granting of such an accommodation? For example, a disabled person whose ability to walk is substantially limited might find it difficult, or even impossible, to walk across a large parking lot to get to their unit. Granting that person their own parking space would be reasonable so they had easy access to their unit in the same way a nondisabled person would. Without the granting of the accommodation the disabled person might not have access to their unit.
The same would apply to have access to the clubhouse or the pool area of the HOA for disabled persons if there weren’t enough parking spaces. Without the additional parking spaces, would a disabled person have an “equal opportunity” to use and enjoy the pool?
In the examples above there is a connection, or “nexus” as HUD likes to say, between the accommodation requested and the disability. If there is no connection, then it’s not necessary to grant the request. For example, a disabled military veteran who suffers from an inability to sleep due to PTSD may in fact be disabled under the Fair Housing Act and require an Emotional Support Animal to enjoy the benefits of fair housing, but if that disabled veteran requested their own parking space as an accommodation to their disability, the housing provider would have a right to deny the request since there is no connection, or nexus, between the disability [inability to sleep] and the need for a parking space.
There are many other exceptions to policies and rules that should be granted to a disabled person, provided that the accommodation requested is necessary, and the nexus is established. Below are some accommodation request letters written by Fair Housing Advocates, Inc. for a disabled person requiring an accommodation from a housing provider. The letters below are available to you upon request and based upon your unique situation.
- Accommodation Request for Assistance Animal to Housing Provider: Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal
- Letter Recommending Assistance Animal from Medical Professional or Reliable Source
- Accommodation Request for a Caregiver [Permanent or Visiting]
- Accommodation Request for Exemption from Application Standard: Bad Credit, Criminal History, References etc.
- Accommodation Request to Extend Lease to Find New Dwelling
- Accommodation Request to Extend Lease until School Year Ends- for Disabled Children Receiving Special Education
- Accommodation Request to Break a Lease without Incurring Financial Penalty
- Accommodation Request to Move to a Different Unit
- Modification Request: Modifications of a Unit- Lower Light Switches, Install Ramps etc.
- Accommodation Request for More Than One Assistance Animal
- Accommodation Request for Personal Handicap Parking Space Near Unit, or Facilities
- Modification Request to HOA to Install a Fence: Disabled Children, Assistance Animals
- Accommodation Request to Break HOA Rule Restricting Type of Vehicle, or Number of Vehicles, or Keeping of Vehicles
- Accommodation Request to City, HOA, Housing Provider for Leash Exemption: Service Dog
- Accommodation Request for a Cat- Emotional Support Animal
- Accommodation Request to a Housing Provider for an Assistance Animal Other Than a Dog or Cat
Notice how diverse the above list really is.
Most recently FHA assisted a physically disabled veteran who initially entered into a lease agreement requiring the use of a cane or a walker, but his physical condition worsened to the point where he needed to use a manually powered wheelchair full time. The home he rented sat atop a steep hill which he could no longer scale using a wheelchair under his own power. It became impossible, and even dangerous, for the disabled veteran to even leave his front door- he risked losing control of his wheelchair down his steep driveway. It was actually impossible for him to even scale his driveway to make it to his front door from his sidewalk.
Since the disabled person could no longer use nor enjoy his property given his physical condition and the topography of his dwelling, it warranted an accommodation request to the housing provider asking to break the lease short of term without financial penalty. There was no other remedy available given the circumstances. How else could the disabled person safely use and enjoy his dwelling in the same way a nondisabled person could?
If you or your family member is disabled, and you believe you are being subjected to unfair rules, policies, or practices by your landlord, your HOA, Condo Association or even your city, please let Fair Housing Advocates, Inc. know by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 838-9963. We are a nonprofit civil rights, fair housing, organization proudly offering all of our services to any person at no cost, regardless of their household income. If you are a military veteran and would like to learn more about how we can help your organization, please reach us.