Reasonable Accommodation

Legal Case #4: You Don’t Have to Break the Law to Accommodate a Tenant

 

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.

Legal Case #3: Duty to Make Reasonable Accommodations Doesn’t Require New Service Offerings

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.

Legal Case #2: OK to Request Information About a Disability to Verify Need for Accommodation

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.

    Q&A:  Did the landlord’s Request for Disability Information Go Too Far?

     

    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?

     

      Arizona Owner Fails to Fulfill Reasonable Accommodation Involving Notices

       

      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.

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