It happens more and more all the time.  Just last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged a Chicago developer and architect with housing discrimination for designing and constructing apartments that fail to meet the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).  Specifically, in this complaint, HUD claims that the building is not accessible to persons with disabilities in several ways, including having doorways that are too narrow as well as kitchens and bathrooms that do not contain adequate or sufficient maneuvering space for those with mobility impairments.  

As I have written in the past here on the Fair Housing Defense Blog, the FHA requires that multifamily housing built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 contain accessible features for persons with disabilities.  These requirements include accessible common areas, bathrooms and kitchens, as well as wider doors and environmental controls that can be reached by persons who use wheelchairs.  If builders, architects, and/or owners fail to include these features, which makes the property difficult or impossible to use by persons with disabilities, HUD will contend doing so violates the FHA.

In this case, a fair housing tester, who uses a wheelchair, claimed that he was unable to pass through a number of doors, and had difficulty maneuvering in the kitchens and bathrooms (among other issues) and the testing agency brought the case to HUD.

These design and building requirements have been on the books for almost 20 years.  While I certainly want to hear from the other side and I never judge a case solely by what HUD may allege, not knowing the law when you design and/or build a property is not sufficient anymore.

Just A Thought.