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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Invalid Reasons for Denying Modification/Accommodation Requests - Part 1

There are valid reasons why an owner or property manager may deny a tenant's modification request. For example, if a tenant doesn't have a disability, if the requested modification isn't related to the disability, or if it's just not reasonable, the law should support a denial.

But sometimes modification requests get denied for reasons that amount to a violation of the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on disability-based discrimination. Very often, the owners or property managers who make such denials believe they're acting within their rights and later are surprised to learn that their policy justifying the denials isn't legal.

Two recent examples show how this plays out.

A tenant at a Boston apartment building requested modifications to her apartment's bathroom and doors, claiming she needed them because of a disability. The property management company denied the modification request, citing a (clearly discriminatory) policy of not accepting tenants with disabilities at the building, according to a report from The Milford Daily News. Following a 2009 complaint from the Massachusetts Attorney General's office, the management company agreed Wednesday to settle the matter.

Read another example in the next blog entry.

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