I got an interesting question about what is a “reasonable accommodation” under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and what is not. In my experience, the law does not really establish any designated threshold (financial or administrative) to determine just what is reasonable, but the guidance is clear that management is not required to provide a specific accommodation if the request would impose an “undue burden” or result in a “fundamental alteration” of the nature of the housing program.
An “undue burden” is an unreasonable financial or administrative cost. Management can show an undue burden by comparing the administrative or financial costs of regular operations as well as the overall resources available to the community. A “fundamental alteration” is an alteration that would change the basic operation or nature of services provided by the housing provider by significantly modifying, eliminating, or adding to the services offered.
Some answers are easy: installing grab bars in a bathroom, changing the date rent is due because of delivery of a disability check, and waiving pet fees for service animals are requests that management regularly responds to. There are potentially countless other requests, and we must evaluate and review each on a case by case basis. I always recommend that management send an interim response as well as a formal response.
And, although I have certainly seen residents ask, I am unaware if a court or HUD has found that a request for reduced rent payments reflects a reasonable accommodation under our FHA.
Just A Thought.