Coach's Quiz -- December 2012 Special Issue
We’ve reviewed some recent court cases to show how communities successfully defended themselves from fair housing claims. Now you can take the COACH’s Quiz to see what you’ve learned.
INSTRUCTIONS: Each of the following questions has only one correct answer. On a separate piece of paper, write down the number of each question, followed by the answer you think is correct—for example, 1)b, 2)a, and so on. The correct answers (with explanations) follow the quiz. Good luck!
How do you know when a resident is making a request for a reasonable accommodation?
a. When the resident complains that your rules are unfair.
b. When the resident insists that the rules don’t apply to her.
c. When the resident asks for an exception to your rules because of a disability.
When are you required to grant requests for reasonable modifications to the interior or exteriors of a unit?
a. When the request is made by or on behalf of an individual with a disability.
b. When there’s an identifiable connection between the requested modification and the individual’s disability.
c. When the requested modification is reasonable.
d. When the resident takes responsibility to pay for the modification.
e. All of the above.
A resident has called repeatedly to complain about secondhand smoke in his unit. Your maintenance staff has investigated but found no unusual smells. Now he says that the smoke is exacerbating a breathing problem and wants an early termination of his lease. What should you do?
a. Ignore his request.
b. Go check out his unit yourself, and deny his request if you don’t smell anything.
c. Consider his request under your standard policies governing requests for reasonable accommodations.
You’ve received numerous complaints about a resident’s children. Among other things, they’ve been running around late at night, disturbing the neighbors and damaging your landscaping. You’ve noticed the problems yourself so you try to talk to the parents, but they deny that their children are causing any problems. When their lease expires, you must renew their lease or face liability for discrimination based on familial status. True or false?
COACH’S ANSWERS & EXPLANATIONS
Correct answer: c
Fair housing law requires communities to make reasonable accommodations to rules, policies, practices, or services to enable an individual with a disability to fully enjoy use of the property. Requests may be made by or on behalf of an individual with a disability at any time before or during a tenancy. According to HUD, it’s a reasonable accommodation request any time a person makes it clear that he is requesting an exception, adjustment, or change to a rule, policy, practice, or service because of a disability.
Wrong answers explained:
A resident isn’t entitled to receive a reasonable accommodation unless he requests one. Even if you suspect that an individual has a disability, general complaints about your community’s rules don’t qualify as a request for a reasonable accommodation. Although no special words are required, HUD says that the individual must make the request in a manner that a reasonable person would understand as a request for an exception, change, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service because of a disability.
Correct answer: e
Under the FHA, it’s unlawful for communities to refuse to permit, at the expense of a person with a disability, reasonable modifications to his unit or common areas if the modifications are necessary to afford him full enjoyment of the premises. The individual with a disability must ask the community for approval before making a reasonable modification, but the community may not deny the request if there’s an identifiable link between the requested modification and the individual’s disability—and the requested modification is reasonable.
Correct answer: c
Even though you’ve previously investigated his complaints, you should treat his request for early termination of his lease under your standard policies governing requests for a reasonable accommodation. Among other things, you may request medical documentation that he qualifies as an individual with a disability. Each request must be considered on a case-by-case basis, so you should get legal help if needed to head off potential fair housing problems.
Wrong answers explained:
Even if you don’t believe his complaints about secondhand smoke are legitimate, you run into fair housing trouble if you ignore him or turn down his request without investigating further. If you question his credibility about the smell, you could ask him about witnesses or call in an objective third-party to validate his claims. By taking these steps, you may not satisfy the resident, but you’ll have persuasive evidence that you did everything possible to resolve the situation in case the matter winds up in court.
Correct answer: b
With proper documentation, you could successfully defend yourself against allegations of discrimination based on familial status. Documentation of the neighbors’ complaints, your own observations, and the steps you took to resolve the problems during the lease term would provide persuasive evidence that you had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for your decision not to renew the family’s lease.
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|How Communities Successfully Defend Fair Housing Claims in Court|