How should housing providers handle Reasonable Accommodation Requests due to COVID-19?

The Fair Housing Act provides an affirmative right to persons with disabilities to reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation is a change in a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary to allow a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. Failure to provide a reasonable accommodation may be construed as disability discrimination. A housing provider must grant a requested reasonable accommodation if it is necessary to accommodate the disability and does not create an undue financial or administrative burden for the housing provider.

A housing provider in assessing whether the reasonable accommodation request would cause an undue burden upon his business must consider a variety of factors, such as the expected cost of the requested accommodation, the provider’s financial situation, and the availability of alternative accommodations that would meet the disability-related needs of the requester.

Reasonable accommodation requested submitted to the housing provider that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals can be denied by the housing provider. The contagious nature of infection with COVID-19 may require a housing provider to conduct an individualized assessment of the situation with medical guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and/or state and local public health agencies before making a determination of direct threat.

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