I am involved in a new matter right now involving a reasonable accommodation request. As I have written any number of times, management must evaluate and consider every reasonable accommodation (and/or reasonable modification) request received from our residents/applicants. No issue about that whatsoever. The point that struck me as odd is that opposing counsel demanded management respond within 48 hours or they would deem the request denied and file a complaint.
To be sure, management needs to timely review and respond to all requests. But, a self-imposed 48 hour deadline? Seemed a bit unrealistic to me. Which opens the door to the next question: just what is reasonable? There is no firm bright line in the law on that. I have seen 10 days, two weeks, 15 days and 20 days all fall within the definition of “reasonable.” And those time frames feel about right. I certainly have never had a court, administative agency, or federal department mandate that 48 hours was the outside edge of “reasonable”.
Can I conceive of an emergency situation in which 48 hours might be reasonable and 72 hours might not be? Perhaps. But, I continue to believe that reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification requests are best done through the interactive process with management and the resident working together cooperatively. And that can take more than just a couple of days.
Now, there are absolutely situations in which an unresponded to reasonable accommodation request can (and should) be considered denied. Sometimes it is just inadvertent — for example if leasing office staff members change and a file is not appropriately documented. Sometimes management is just slow. Neither circumstance is textbook and we try to put procedures in place to avoid such an unforced error. But, it can (and does) happen.
And if there is an unreasonable delay, that is when management needs to speak with a lawyer like me.
Just A Thought.