WHAT IS A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION?

By Eric Glazer, Esq. 

Published March 9, 2020

 

In the housing context, pursuant to The Fair Housing Act, 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 discrimination.  In addition, the Fair Housing Act prohibits a housing provider from refusing to permit, at the expense of the person with a disability, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by such person if such modifications may be necessary to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises.

 

Common examples of a reasonable accommodation would be:

1.     Allowing a unit owner access to a parking spot that is closer to their unit because of a physical injury;

2.     Allowing the unit owner to install an elevator lift so that they donít have to walk steps;

3.     Allowing the owner to install a device that helps them access the swimming pool.

 

These installations must be made at the cost of the person with the disability.

 

It is clear that the intent of the law is to help those with physical disabilities use and enjoy their home.

 

Now here it where it got confusing for me last week.  On the Condo Craze and HOAs radio show, a woman called in and explained that she has cancer and has physical disabilities being able to walk.  She is in poor health.  The condo has a rule which prohibits smoking on the catwalks.  When she smokes on the catwalks the neighbors complain that the smoke is bothering them and they demand she stop.  She asked me if the condo can be forced to provide her with a reasonable accommodation which would allow her to ignore the rule prohibiting smoking on the catwalks.

 

In twelve years, I have answered thousands of calls on the how.  However, this call I wonít soon forget.  Here was a woman who has cancer and demands that the condo association change their rules so that she may actually harm her own health and that of her neighbors.  I asked her what type of cancer she has.  She explained she had a double mastectomy.  I asked her what her oncologist thought about her smoking, to which she responded that she has no problems with her lungs.

 

I never smoked a cigarette in my entire life.  The very smell of it sickens me.  At that moment however I realized the absolute hold nicotine can have over a personís life.  I actually found the phone call amazing and disturbing.

 

In any event, I told this woman that I did not believe the condo was under any obligation whatsoever to help her commit suicide.  This is not providing a reasonable accommodation in order that she can use and enjoy the dwelling.  On the contrary, it would be providing an unreasonable accommodation which would help her die in her dwelling while poisoning the neighbors around her. 

I closed the call by telling her that I only wish her a long healthy life, but when she hangs up with me, she should call a professional and get immediate help to kick the habit.  I hope she did.


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About HOA & Condo Blog

Eric Glazer Eric Glazer graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 after receiving a B.A. from NYU. He has practiced community association law for more than 2

decades and is the owner of Glazer and Sachs, P.A. a seven attorney law firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando and satellite offices in Naples, Fort Myers and Tampa.

 

Since 2009, Eric has been the host of Condo Craze and HOAs, a weekly one hour radio show that airs at noon each Sunday on 850 WFTL.

   

See: www.condocrazeandhoas.com.

   

He is the first attorney in the State of Florida that designed a course that certifies condominium residents as eligible to serve on a condominium Board of Directors and has now certified more than 10,000 Floridians all across the state. He is certified as a Circuit Court Mediator by The Florida Supreme Court and has mediated dozens of disputes between associations and unit owners. Eric also devotes significant time to advancing legislation in the best interest of Florida community association members.


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