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HUD and DOJ Issue Joint Statement Clarifying Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act

The portion of the Fair Housing Act that protects persons with disabilities often causes the most confusion for both consumers and housing providers. The Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia receives numerous phone calls from disabled home seekers wanting to know about their rights and from housing providers unsure about their responsibilities under the law. While most people understand the basics of the Fair Housing Act, such as the fact that housing providers cannot deny housing to members of protected classes, the issue of reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities is much more complicated. Due to confusion surrounding this issue, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice have issued a joint statement clarifying reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act.

The joint statement clarifies housing providers' responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act as it relates to people with disabilities, provides examples of situations that housing providers may face in dealing with disabled consumers, and answers the following questions:

  • What types of discrimination against persons with disabilities does the Act prohibit?
  • Who must comply with the Fair Housing Act's reasonable accommodation requirements?
  • Who qualifies as a person with a disability under the Act?
  • Does the Act protect juvenile offenders, sex offenders, persons who illegally use controlled substances, and persons with disabilities who pose a significant danger to others?
  • How can a housing provider determine if an individual poses a direct threat?
  • What is a "reasonable accommodation" for purposes of the Act?
  • Are there any instances when a housing provider can deny a request for a reasonable accommodation without violating the Act?
  • What is a "fundamental alteration"?
  • What happens if providing a reasonable accommodation involves some costs on the part of the housing provider?
  • What happens if no agreement can be reached through interactive process?
  • May a housing provider charge an extra fee or require an extra deposit from applicants or residents with disabilities as a condition of granting a reasonable accommodation?
  • When and how should an individual request and accommodation?
  • Must a housing provider adopt formal procedures for processing requests for a reasonable accommodation?
  • Is a housing provider obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation to a resident or applicant if an accommodation has not been requested?
  • What if a housing provider fails to act promptly on a reasonable accommodation request?
  • What inquiries, if any, may a housing provider make of current or potential residents regarding the existence of a disability when they have not asked for an accommodation?
  • What kinds of information, if any, may a housing provider request from a person with an obvious or known disability who is requesting a reasonable accommodation?
  • If a disability is not obvious, what kinds of information may a housing provider request from the person with a disability in support of a requested accommodation?

The complete text of this statement may be obtained at: Reasonable Accommodation: HUD and DOJ Joint Statement.

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