Arizona Owner Fails to Fulfill Reasonable Accommodation Involving Notices

HUD recently announced that it has approved a Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreement between the Housing Authority of Maricopa County, in Mesa, Ariz., and one of its residents who has a mental health disability. Under the agreement, the housing authority will pay $10,000 to the tenant and provide fair housing training for its employees who work with the public. The housing authority will also vacate the tenant’s eviction and waive the $3,516 eviction judgment that had been entered against her.

One level deeper: The agreement resolves claims that the housing authority failed to fulfill a reasonable accommodation request to provide the tenant’s brother with copies of all correspondence sent to the tenant, resulting in the tenant failing to respond to a recertification notice and being evicted.

The tenant also alleged that the housing authority violated Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal financial assistance. As a result of the housing authority’s failure to provide the tenant’s brother with her recertification notice, the tenant lost her housing.

What you need to know: The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing providers from discriminating against people with disabilities, including refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when such accommodations may be necessary to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling.

In other words, changes in the way things are customarily done that enable a person with disabilities to enjoy housing opportunities is a reasonable accommodation. Since rules, policies, practices, and services may have a different effect on persons with disabilities than on other persons, HUD says that treating persons with disabilities exactly the same as others will sometimes deny them an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

Takeaway: Remember to carefully consider each reasonable accommodation request you receive. When you get an accommodation request, it’s up to you to evaluate whether the person is entitled to a reasonable accommodation because of a disability and whether the requested accommodation is reasonable and necessary.