Happy New Year Fair Housing Defense Blog readers.  Your humble editor starts another year with a question related to a reasonable accommodation request.  Specifically, what can or should apartment management do to verify an accommodation request?  Here are some simple guidelines:

1.  If a person’s disability is obvious or known (and the need for the requested accommodation is also known), then management should not ask for any more information.  For example, if a resident in a wheelchair submits a reasonable accommodation request seeking a handicapped parking spot, no further verification is needed.

2.  If the disability is obvious or known (but the need for the accommodation is not known), then management should seek only information required to verify the need for the accommodation.  To illustrate, if an individual with a mobility impairment requests a service animal, management may be entitled to confirm the disability-related need for the service animal.

3.  If neither the disability nor the need for the accommodation is readily apparent, management can seek verification of both the disability as well as the need for the accommodation.   An example of this type of request would be if an applicant with an diagnosed anxiety issue seeks an assistance animal.  Many leasing offices have a simple form that a resident can complete and get verified by his/her health care professional.

Make no mistake, apartment management company employees do not want to unnecessarily delve into the personal medical history of any resident or applicant.  We are only attempting to comply with the Fair Housing Act and appropriately respond to each reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification request we receive.  If you have a specific question about a request and/or how to respond to it, you might want to speak with a lawyer like me.

Just A Thought.