November 2008 Coach's Quiz
We have given you eight rules on how on comply with fair housing requirements when faced with a request from a resident with a disability to transfer to a particular unit within a community. Now let's look at how the rules might apply in the real world. Take the COACH'S QUIZ to see what you have 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.
And this month, there's an extra-credit assignment: JUDGE FOR YOURSELF, a description of an actual dispute that wound up in federal court. Test yourself on whether you think the community acted properly, and then check out the summary of the court's ruling to see how much you have learned.
COACH'S TIP: The correct answers (with explanations) follow the quiz. Good luck!
A resident has developed an obvious mobility disorder and needs a live-in aide, so he asks for a transfer to a two-bedroom unit on the first floor. You have a suitable unit available, so you must agree to his request. True or false?
A month after signing a year's lease, a resident asks to be moved to another unit because of the noise from her next-door neighbors, a family with young children. Your community has never received complaints about the family, but the resident says “the noise is getting on her nerves.” When you tell her that your community's transfer policy requires 60 days' notice, she moves out immediately and files a disability discrimination complaint. Is your community liable?
Extra Credit: Judge for Yourself
A new resident moves into a first-floor unit. The community is aware that he has schizophrenia and depression but that he is able to live independently and has no special needs. He pays his rent on time and properly maintains the condition of his unit.
A few months after he moves in, however, the community receives a complaint from his upstairs neighbor about the resident's noisy behavior. The neighbor, who has lived there for five years, says she is unable to sleep because the resident is screaming and slamming doors throughout the night.
The manager contacts the resident's social worker, but the disturbances continue and the neighbor registers another complaint. In addition to contacting the social worker again, the manager soundproofs the disabled resident's front door. The manager offers to transfer the neighbor, but she refuses to move.
At the end of the year, the community has received more than a half-dozen complaints. The manager decides not renew the resident's lease, but his social worker asks the manager to renew the lease for another year and to contact him immediately upon receipt of any complaints, as a reasonable accommodation for the resident's disability.
The manager grants the resident several extensions, but the neighbor continues to complain about the resident's excessive noisemaking. Eventually, the manager refuses to grant any further extensions and asks the resident to leave. In the weeks leading up to the deadline, the manager does not respond to several requests from the social worker to meet to discuss reasonable accommodations.
The resident moves out and sues the community for failure to provide reasonable accommodations. The resident says that the community should have accommodated his disability by moving him or the neighbor to another unit. Is the community liable for disability discrimination?
Coach's Answers & Explanations
Correct answer: a
Reason: Rule #1 applies here:
Rule #1: Establish Policies, Procedures for Handling Requests for Reasonable Accommodations
Your community should allow a resident's request for a transfer as a reasonable accommodation for his disability. Fair housing law requires communities to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford the disabled individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling.
Wrong answer explained:
The resident's request for a transfer falls within legal requirements to be considered a reasonable accommodation for a disability. There is an identifiable relationship between his disability and his need to move to a larger, ground-floor unit, and the request doesn't appear to impose a fundamental alteration in the community's operations or undue financial or administrative burdens.
Correct answer: b
Reason: Rule #4 applies here:
Rule #4: Assess Whether the Transfer Request Is Related to a Disability
Wrong answer explained:
It's unlikely that the resident's request for an immediate transfer would be considered a request for a reasonable accommodation. The law considers a resident to be making a request for a reasonable accommodation anytime she “makes it clear to the housing provider that she is requesting an exception, change, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service because of a disability.” Her demand doesn't make it clear that she has a disability-related need to move immediately.
Extra Credit: Judge for Yourself
No, the community is not liable for failure to accommodate the resident's disability. Among the proposed accommodations was moving either the resident or the neighbor to another unit, but the court said that neither accommodation was reasonable. All the units in the community were of the same two-story configuration, so the resident would have most likely disturbed anyone who was a neighboring resident.
Similarly, although the community offered the neighbor the option of moving, it couldn't force her to do so. The law did not require the community to sacrifice the rights of a neighbor to fulfill its obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation to the resident.
The court also ruled that the community was not guilty of bad faith in violating its obligation to work out a reasonable accommodation. The court said that it did not condone the manager's failure to respond to the social worker's last-minute efforts, but it did not amount to bad faith. By that time, the manager had been in close contact with the social worker for months, and previous efforts to accommodate the resident's disability had been unsuccessful [Groner v. Metropolitan Strategy Group, May 2001].
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|How To Handle Transfer Requests From Residents With Disabilities|