Grace Hill Training Tip of the Week
What Questions Can You Ask Related to Reasonable Accommodations?
People with disabilities face particular challenges when it comes to housing and have special protections under fair housing law. Disabilities include both physical and mental impairments. It may not always be obvious that someone has a disability, which can make complying with fair housing law in this area a little tricky. Understanding how people with disabilities are protected by the law will help you avoid discriminatory practices and create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone who comes to your community.
Let’s take a short quiz!
True or false? When asked to make accommodations for a resident’s disability, you have the right to ask any questions necessary to verify the disability.
If you answered False, you are correct. There are guidelines regarding what you may ask a person who is requesting reasonable accommodations. Failure to adhere to these guidelines puts you at risk of a fair housing claim.
Here are some tips:
- If a person’s disability is obvious or otherwise known to you, and if the need for the requested accommodation is also readily apparent or known, then you may not request any additional information.
- If a person’s disability is obvious or known to you, but the need for the accommodation is not, you may request only information that is necessary to evaluate the need for the accommodation.
- If a person’s disability is not obvious or known to you, you may request reliable documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the person is indeed disabled and that the requested accommodation is necessary.
The law does not require any formal procedures for requesting a reasonable accommodation. However, having a formal process in place will be helpful to prospects, residents, and your community by making it easier to consider and respond to requests. Be aware, though, that if a prospect or resident does not submit the request according to your process, you cannot use that fact to deny the request. You must consider all requests, no matter how they are submitted.
Treat disability-related inquiries with great care. If you are unsure about the validity of a request, work with legal counsel to determine the lawful way to verify the legitimacy of the disability.
For more information, download the U.S. Department of Justice and HUD joint guidelines titled Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act.