I received a good question that raised a common issue for management and residents when dealing with reasonable accommodation and modification requests. Assume a resident (or an applicant) asks for a specific reasonable accommodation or modification. After reviewing the request, management believes it cannot grant it for whatever reason. Management, does, however, offer a different accommodation in an effort to meet the needs of the resident. What happens next?
This comes up from time to time. The real question is: will the accommodation offered by management (even if it is a bit different) meet the needs of the resident? While management absolutely must review and evaluate each reasonable accommodation (or reasonable modification) request, there are some requests that we just cannot grant. Some requests would require an undue burden or cause a fundamental alteration in our housing operations.
In such a circumstance, the better decision is not just to say no – but to attempt to come up with an accommodation or modification that meets the needs of the resident and is something we can do. Engaging in the interactive process is a daily part of the activities of a busy apartment management professionals. If our accommodation is acceptable to the resident, all the better and we have another satisfied customer. If our solution is believed not to be acceptable, management should continue to work with the resident to see if there is a compromise or other solution. To be sure, a resident can file a fair housing complaint at any time – and then the parties can involve HUD, the courts, or a state, city, or county investigator. Although in my experience engaging with the resident is better than defending against a housing discrimination complaint. Remember, if you receive a discrimination complaint, you may need to contact a lawyer like me.
Just A Thought.