What happens when a resident (or an applicant) submits a reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification request that management believes it cannot do? Should we just send a curt “No” response and let that be the end of it. Of course not. If there is a request that management does not believe is reasonable, the leasing office staff should discuss with the resident whether there is an alternative accommodation that would effectively address the disability-related needs. Many times I have been able to assist management (and the resident) as we have all worked together to find an accommodation or modification that the community can do and which appropriately meets the needs of the resident. Indeed, engaging in the interactive process with our residents can really help reduce the number of housing discrimination complaints.
Please remember that there is no required form that a resident must use to request an accommodation (or modification). To be sure, I recommend that management send an interim response noting that we have received the request and that we are actively considering it. And then follow up with a final letter noting that the community has approved the accommodation or discussing what we can do. Many times a request can be granted. Some times when the specific request is not something that we can do, working together, the parties can find an acceptable alternative. That alternative should be noted and included in the file.
What is the worst thing management can do? Nothing. And just let the request sit. If indeed nothing is ever done, it is more likely that: (1) a complaint will be filed; and (2) you will really need a lawyer like me because the file will be incomplete at best and our defense will be more complicated than it should have been.
Just A Thought.