Professional apartment management companies just want to know the fair housing rules. We are happy to play by them as we engage in our daily housing operations, but it can be a challenge when the rules are uncertain. In Davis v. Habitat for Humanity of Bay County, Inc., a decision issued in late February 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit provided helpful guidance when it concluded that management’s failure to meet every demand of a potential disabled resident was not actionable under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) when other reasonable accommodations for the disabled individuals were indeed made. The appeal was filed by a disappointed plaintiff, unhappy that a home built for them did not have each and every accommodation they sought.
After the trial court dismissed the case, the plaintiff appealed. In disposing of the appeal and affirming the district court, the 11th Circuit explained that while the FHA prohibits discriminatory housing practices based on an individual’s disability, that same individual is not entitled to the exact accommodation of his or her choice, but is entitled only to a reasonable accommodation. Here, the court noted that there was no evidence that the home builder refused to make reasonable accommodations and that, in fact, the builder met with the plaintiffs several times and affirmatively agreed to modify the building plan for the home. The court concluded that if each and every reasonable accommodation request was not met, that does not necessarily mean that a reasonable accommodation had not been made.
As Fair Housing Defense blog readers know, I try not to write in legalese here. What this means is that while management must continue to engage in the interactive process with our residents and search for solutions to reasonable accommodation requests, there is no requirement under the law that the specific accommodation requested by the resident be granted in the exact form it was sought. Make sense?
Just A Thought.