Q & A: Reasonable Accommodations?

My mother had a stroke recently and now requires a wheelchair, and she lives on the second floor of a building with no elevator. We're looking to get a lift installed for her, but a board member said the association may not cover it. Isn't the association obligated to some extent to accommodate a person with disabilities?

—Paying it Forward

“The Fair Housing Act requires the association to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services, when such accommodations may be reasonably necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling,” says Russell Robbins of the law firm of Mirza Basulto & Robbins, LLP in Coral Springs. “It seems clear from the fact pattern, the unit owner (or occupant) has a disability that has confined them to a wheelchair, and they are unable to use and enjoy the property without the benefit of a chair lift or elevator. However, while the association is required to grant reasonable accommodations, it is highly unlikely that the association would be required to install a chair lift or elevator based upon the undue financial burden the cost of such an improvement.

“However, if the unit owner wished to install such improvement on the common elements, at no expense to the association, and the cost of such improvement (and the maintenance thereof) would be borne by the affected unit owner, then it may constitute a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act. Typically the association may be asked to install a wheelchair ramp, and such improvement may benefit other disabled unit owners and/or occupants.

“Since the cost of that type of improvement is far less and can benefit other individuals, the association may be required to install same, at its expense, as a reasonable accommodation to disabled unit owners and/or occupants. The Fair Housing Act provides for penalties for associations for discriminatory conduct or failure to reasonably accommodate a unit owner/occupant with a disability. Extreme caution should be utilized prior to refusing any request for a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, and such decision should be discussed with the association’s attorney, in depth, before a final decision is rendered.”

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  • I have Stage IV cancer and a hard time backing out of my driveway. as the neighbor that joins my driveway has a motorhome extended into the roadway in direct line of my driveway. He has decided that he needs that motorhome as he is disabled. He plays tennis, rides a bike has stairs to his bedrooms. But he needs the motorhome because it is easier to get in and out of. This is not a van it is a 20 ft motorhome, and against the HOA of having one in the community. He refused to have a Orthopedic Dr. look at him. Why would I have to have this happen to me and it also closes out every window that I can see from in the front of my home. You see this big motorhome. His driveway is 16'7" ft. the motorhome is 20 foot. 19'11 ft. to be exact. His lawyer said he can have it because of the Government winning all cases against HOA's. This is a hardship for me, and I do not get to enjoy my home at all for the time I have left.
  • If this went to a jury...i would be on your side and here i s why: . 1. Life of time to live; 2. Quality of life must be shared, not one sided; 3..an hoa can confine anyone inside or in a wheelchair. Not qualified to make expert decision. 4. Be a good neighboor. Dont be greedy or selfish. We live next to each other have a little respect and be flexible, help thy neighbor. 5.when your cancer has so progressed i believe an hoa has to butt out and allow medical and courts whats best for you for your last stages. Family and expert should testify on your behalf. 6. Make hoa put in a wheelchair ramp at hoa costs. The accidents without will supersede then finally they will make it ada possible. Just do the right thing in life. Eventually it will be well used over time and paid for by hoa 10x over minus litigation / falling lawsuits!!! 7. What if was a child this happsn to would it make a difference?
  • I live in Century Village West Palm Beach. I had a bad fall in Dec. 2021. I live on second floor of a two story building. Wanting to find out about getting some help in getting a lift for building. I have lived in this building for 24 years. Having a hard time climbing stairs.