Fair Housing Act: Reasonable Accommodations

A federal judge recently ruled in favor of a family in their suit against a Keizer community association.  In that case, the judge held that the Association violated state and federal fair housing laws as explained in detail in the judge's order that can be found here.  

In short, the case involved a family's request for an accommodation to park an RV in front of their home to assist with transporting their daughter.  The request to the Association was accompanied by letters from two of the daughter's healthcare providers documenting the daughter's disabilities and explaining the necessity of the RV for transportation purposes. In this case, an accommodation was requested because the Association's CC&Rs prohibited owners from parking large vehicles, including motor homes, in front of their houses. The Association denied the request for the reasons explained in the court's order, including that the Association was under no legal obligation to grant the accommodation because the accommodation did not relate to the daughter's ability to use or enjoy the home and because of safety concerns relating to the RV protruding onto the street and beyond plaintiffs' property line (the other safety concern related to the RV's blocking of a neighbor's view when exiting the driveway).  The family eventually moved and then sued the Association for violating state and federal fair housing laws. The court concluded that the accommodation request did relate to the daughter's ability to use or enjoy the home (and further agreed that the family had established the necessity of their requested accommodation), that the family had established that the RV would not protrude onto the street, and finally, that the family had purchased a parabolic mirror to assist the neighbor in relation to the potential view issue when exiting the driveway. Consequently and for the additional reasons explained in the court's order, the court held that the Association violated the state and federal fair housing laws by denying the family's request for a reasonable accommodation.    

This recent court decision provides us with another example of the type of situation where the state and federal fair housing acts apply.  It also reminds us of the importance of a careful review of requests for reasonable accommodation.  On that note, associations should be aware that a request for a reasonable accommodation may not use the words "reasonable" or "accommodation."  That language is unnecessary, so associations should keep an eye out generally for these requests and then work to ensure compliance with the federal and state fair housing laws. 

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