Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How Accommodating Is an Accessible, But Not a Designated, Parking Spot?

Many retail centers, office buildings, and even residential buildings offer accessible parking spots for visitors with disabilities. Of course, such spots are normally available on a first-come, first-served basis to visitors, which means there's no guaranty a visitor who needs an accessible spot will be able to find one.

What if you're not a visitor, but you own a home in a multifamily building with a parking lot? Is it reasonable for a housing provider to offer an accessible parking spot to such a person, but tell her it can't be reserved?

A condo owner with a mobility impairment in Puerto Rico says such an arrangement is both unreasonable and illegal. She's pursuing a fair housing claim against the condo's developer/manager, alleging that the company's denial of a designated accessible parking spot violates the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on disability-based discrimination.

The FHA requires housing providers to consider requests for reasonable accommodations from residents who need changes to rules, policies, or procedures on account of a disability. If a provider believes an accommodation would be unreasonable, it may propose an alternative. But the condo developer's idea to offer the accessible parking spot to the owner on a first-come, first-served basis doesn't cut it, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Charge of Discrimination, issued on February 19 and announced on February 24.

The owner's original assigned spots are some 238 feet away from her apartment. In addition to her having difficulty traveling that length on foot, the owner must cross oncoming traffic to reach her spots. In contrast, the accessible spot that the owner would like to have designated for her exclusive use is situated only 103 feet away — out of traffic and on an accessible route that offers support railings.

A HUD administrative law judge will hear the case. Among other things, the owner seeks a civil penalty plus damages for emotional distress, including embarrassment and humiliation, inconvenience, and economic loss caused by the developer's alleged discriminatory conduct.

If a resident requests an accessible parking spot as a reasonable accommodation for a disability, is it ever reasonable for the housing provider to offer such a spot on a first-come, first served basis?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this!

Unknown said...

I too am fighting this same battle with the condo association where I live. Their reason for not assigning the space when first installed was that 'parking is too tight'. Seems that would be more of a reason to assign it. They have about another 4 days to place a "reserved For ..." sign (again requested) before I start the process.

BTW, it took 2 months to get the space installed.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you for posting. I am also fighting a similar battle. I have assigned spaces but my administrator wants me to trade one of my assigned spaces in order to have right to use the handicapped space. I was wondering if this arrangement is legal because i feel as if they are interpreting that intially i didnt have a right unless i negotiate? Is this possible? Id appreciate any help. Thank you