Exempting a disabled tenant’s service animal from a no-pets policy is a common kind of reasonable accommodation. But a Florida case deals with what a landlord can do when those accepted service animals create a nuisance for other tenants.
A somewhat odd case out of California illustrates another important qualifier of the landlord’s duty to provide a requested accommodation.
Situation: A tenant with “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” (EHS), which causes him to be physically and neurologically affected by radiofrequency emissions from cell phone equipment, asks the city to remove a cell tower near his unit. The city refuses, noting that the tower’s placement is based on requirements of federal environmental law. So, the tenant sues the city and homeowners association for disability discrimination.
The basic rule is that landlords must make reasonable accommodations to the point of undue hardship. Most resonable accommodations cases were decided on the basis of reasonableness, including an Arizona case posing the question of whether it’s reasonable to expect a landlord to introduce a whole new service or activity for a tenant with disabilities.
Nearly half of the cases this year address a landlord’s FHA duty to make reasonable accommodations. In most of these cases, the requested accommodation was purportedly necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and public and common use areas. These cases offer insight into how far the duty to accommodate goes, including a key case out of Kentucky that sheds light on a landlord’s right to verify the requestor’s disability and need for the accommodation.
In a recent case, a tenant claimed she needed an emotional support animal for a mental disability and asked the homeowners association board for an exemption from the community’s no-pet policy. Since the tenant’s disability isn’t readily apparent, the landlord asked her for verification. She provided a medical note listing her diagnosis. Although the disease is an officially recognized illness, the board wanted more information about the disability and how it affects her “major life activities.” When she refused to provide the information, the landlord moved to evict her.
Did the landlord’s request for more information about the disability go too far?
HUD recently announced that it has approved a Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreementbetween the Housing Authority of Maricopa County, in Mesa, Ariz., and one of its residents who has a mental health disability. Under the agreement, the housing authority will pay $10,000 to the tenant and provide fair housing training for its employees who work with the public. The housing authority will also vacate the tenant’s eviction and waive the $3,516 eviction judgment that had been entered against her.
Question. We have an applicant applying for residency that has an Oregon Medical Marijuana Card, He has requested that he grow marijuana for his use and is asking for a reasonable accommodation to grow since our rules do not allow pot to be grown on the space. Does this qualify for a reasonable accommodation? If we make a reasonable accommodation is he still required to grow only the limited number of plants outlined in the ORS? Or can he grow as many as he wants? Can we require that the plants be grown in the back of the space?"
Question: A tenant has asked for her daughter to be on a temporary occupant agreement. The tenant has recently been in the hospital and has returned home. She has not said she needs a caregiver at this point in time. The daughter is 40 years old and has three large dogs. She has applied to be a temporary occupant and has said that she will bring her dogs and if the park says 'no' she will get her attorney. Does the temporary occupant have rights? The park has a small dog policy - her dogs are clearly in violation. At this point there has been no mention of disability or request for reasonable accommodation. What are the landlord's rights? We suspect that the tenant will eventually say she needs at caregiver and hence the need for her daughter. At that point, once she has said "disability" or "caregiver" what are the landlord's rights? Can he say no to the daughter in both circumstances or only in first before the word "disability" or "caregiver" is mentioned?
Question No. 1. Our community recently had a rule that permitted street parking from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM). The rule was changed and now prohibits any street parking at any time. The reason for the new rule was due to the narrowness of the streets which prevented emergency vehicles clear access. The rule change passed with no objections. Since the adoption of the new rule we have had a handful of residents and their guests who refuse to follow the new policy and a few residents who have hinted that they need a reasonable accommodation.
The first reasonable accommodation request is from a resident who says it "inconvenient" for herself and her caretaker(s) to shuffle cars in the driveway. The driveway accommodates two vehicles. The resident has one car and the caretakers and they must park end-to-end. Since the caretakers alternate shifts, there are only two vehicles in the driveway at the same time.
One caretakers seems to abide by the rules but the other will not. The caretaker who refuses to follow the rule says she is handicapped and has a handicap parking permit. She says we must allow her to park on the street. Are we required to provide on-street parking spot for a nonresident, handicapped or not? If there are two spots available in the resident's driveway can they refuse to park in the driveway just because they don't want to move vehicles and say that's a reasonable accommodation?
Question No. 2. The other potential request for an accommodation is from a resident who only has room for one vehicle in her driveway because she installed a handicap ramp that took away her second parking spot. The resident parks in the driveway and the caretaker parks on the street in front of the house because it is more "convenient" than using the guest parking which is a little walk away.
If this resident requests a reasonable accommodation for her caretaker or herself to park on the street do we have to designate another street parking spot?
It seems like both these requests are for the benefit of the caretakers not the residents. Do we have to accommodate the non-resident caretakers, handicapped or not, because it's requested?
Question: We have an RV park with quite a few long-term tenants. Our problem tenant ("Kris") has been here for for what seems like ages. This time every year around the holidays, Kris has a whole group of elves stay with him for a couple of months and they never register as guests. He claims he needs a "reasonable accommodation" for them because he has a bad back and they help him do a lot of lifting. He also brings in a herd of reindeer (Kris doesn't have a pet agreement), and he parks a red sleigh on the street (where parking isn't allowed). What can we do?