I get questions concerning handicapped parking spots regularly. The easy answer to parking space questions is that designating a specific spot as a handicapped parking place with appropriate signage in response to a reasonable accommodation request should be granted.
There is also available guidance concerning the number of van accessible spots. Those involve the number of spaces in the parking lot and ensuring the parking lot is properly striped.
Those are the easier questions. But, for example, what if a community charges all of its residents a nominal monthly fee to park at the community? And then a disabled resident makes a reasonable accommodation request that management waive the parking charge. Must management waive the parking fee as a reasonable accommodation? The answer is generally no.
This issue was addressed in a 9th Circuit opinion a few years ago discussing the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The Court noted that the landlord of an apartment complex charged all residents a monthly parking fee that a disabled resident sought to have waived as a reasonable accommodation. Although a disabled resident may require a car far more than other residents, the court noted that a waiver of the car parking fee would put the disabled resident in a privileged position in relation to other residents — as opposed to affording them equal opportunity.
The Court was clear that there are a number of types of residential fees that affect both disabled and non-disabled residents equally. And those fees are certainly proper. Fees that courts will closely review are those with unequal impact — such as charging more for a select parking space or adding a fee for a service animal.
Just A Thought.