As a part of management’s consideration of reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification requests received from our valued residents (and/or applicants), sometimes we need to determine if the resident is “disabled” or has a “disability” as defined under applicable law.   While many of the fair housing laws use the term “handicap,” cases interpreting our fair housing laws make clear that the terms “handicap” and “disability” have the same meaning in this circumstance.  As currently interpreted, individuals with handicaps or persons with disabilities include individuals:  (a) with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (b) who are regarded as having such an impairment; and (c) who have a record of such an impairment.  There are many conditions that can qualify as “disabled” under the law.

Nevertheless, the following individuals are not included in the fair housing definition of “disability” or “handicap”:  (a) persons currently engaging in the illegal use of a controlled substance; (b) persons whose tenancy would constitute a “direct threat” to the health or safety of other individuals or whose tenancy would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others; (c) persons convicted of the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance; and/or (d) juvenile and sex offenders.

When required, management will obtain only so much information as may be necessary to make an appropriate determination — such as to respond to a reasonable accommodation or modification request.  Make no mistake, we are not attempting to unnecessarily insert ourselves into your medical history.  To illustrate, if someone uses a wheelchair, it is unlikely that management will need further documentation about a request for a designated parking spot.  On the other hand, for someone with a disability that is not obvious, we only seek confirmation that the resident meets the definition under applicable law so we can evaluate an accommodation or modification request.  Make sense?

Just A Thought.