Disability Rights and Reasonable Property Modification Under the Fair Housing Act

As more and more people decide to age in place or even bring their elderly parents into their homes, decisions are made about home renovations to accommodate their increasing physical needs. If you or your loved ones living in the same residence are disabled and considering making modifications to your home, whether it’s a condo, rental community, or even a single-family home or townhome, you may be eligible to make “reasonable modifications” to the interior or the exterior of your home under the Fair Housing Act. Even if the requested reasonable modification does not fit the HOA, condo association, or landlord’s guidelines for approval, and even if they outright deny your request, they nonetheless may be required to approve it under the Fair Housing Act.

Do you qualify as a disabled person under the Fair Housing Act?

You may be surprised to learn that even the pain of arthritis which has limited your mobility may qualify for disability under the FHA. If you are unsure if your physical impairment or handicaps meets the Fair Housing Act’s definition of disability please click here to read more.  

How will your disability needs be met by the proposed reasonable modification?

Once you have determined that you meet the Fair Housing Act’s definition of disabled or a member of your household is disabled, you must next determine if the needed modification relates to the disability. For example, if you need help to steady yourself in the shower, you may need grab bars installed in your apartment or condo. The condo association or landlord must accommodate this need. In some cases, your landlord or condo association may be familiar with the laws and their responsibility to accommodate your need. If you are unsure of your rights and their obligations or if you find yourself in a struggle, contact the law offices of Bromberg Rosenthal LLC for expert guidance on your unique circumstances. 

HOA’s and approval for reasonable modifications for disability under the Fair Housing Act

If you live in a single-family home, townhome, or condo and live within an HOA, there are many options for making “reasonable modifications” to your home to afford “full enjoyment” as you live with a disability or age in place with increasing physical limitations. Disabled people have a legal right to full enjoyment of their homes just as nondisabled do and if a modification is needed to allow that full enjoyment, it must be allowed. If you’ve lived an active life and suddenly find that you are struggling with one or more life activities, even something as straightforward as limited mobility due to arthritis, you may be determined legally disabled under the Fair Housing Act. This must be determined by your doctor and it may be all you need to turn your HOA’s objections into an approval for your desired reasonable modifications which will afford you full enjoyment of your property.

Upon receipt of your application for a modification to your property, an HOA Architectural Control Committee may find that your proposed changes do not fall into their guidelines. It’s important that your application states that you are a disabled person and that you are prepared to provide documentation and prove the nexus between your disability and the proposed modification. If you meet that nexus and you have documentation, you should be able to gain approval. An example of the relationship or nexus between your disability and the modification would be a wheelchair ramp for a mobility impaired resident. The HOA may not like the aesthetics, but the law is on your side. However, it doesn’t have to be something as straightforward as the wheelchair ramp example. 

What if you are mobility impaired and you are no longer able to take daily long walks with your dog? You may need a fence in an area of your yard, or a configuration that allows you to care for your pets, but is outside of the guidelines for the placement of the fence. If you are disabled and your proposed reasonable modification for the fence does not fall within the guidelines of the HOA covenants, but you have proved the need with supportive documentation from your physician, the HOA may be compelled to allow your request.   

Disability Discrimination in Housing is Real and We Can Help

HOAs can be difficult to work with as Architectural Control Committees responsible for approving your request may be unfamiliar with disability rights and their obligations under the law. Nonetheless, they need to become educated about disability law and in many cases, your reasonable accommodation under FHA will most likely supersede their architectural guidelines or protests. If you find yourself struggling to obtain your desired outcome or feel you have been discriminated against, the attorneys at Bromberg Rosenthal LLC have decades of experience fighting for the rights of the disabled. If you have been a victim of disability discrimination in the application process, we may be able to recover legal fees for your representation. Our goal is to ensure that you are being treated fairly and are afforded all opportunities available to you under the law. Call us today at 301-251-6200 for your personal and confidential case review.

Contact Our Skilled Disability Law Attorneys

If you need the assistance of an experienced disability law attorney, please contact Bromberg Rosenthal LLC. We can be reached by phone at 301-251-6200 or by filling out our intake form.

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