When is an Accommodation or Modification Request Reasonable?

Under fair housing laws, people with disabilities can request accommodations to rules, policies and practices in housing. If the requested accommodation is reasonable, a landlord or other covered housing provider would have to permit the accommodation. Similarly, if someone with a disability needs to make reasonable modifications to fully use and enjoy housing, it would be unlawful for the homeowner, homeowners association, local government or other covered housing provider to refuse to allow the modification.

Covered housing providers are obligated to permit accommodation and allow modifications, when they are reasonable and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided guidance for consumers and providers alike in evaluating the reasonableness of a specific request.

What is Reasonable? A request for an accommodation or modification is considered reasonable if that request:

  • Does not cause an undue financial and administrative burden to the housing provider
  • Does not cause a basic change in the nature of the housing program available
  • Will not cause harm or damage to others
  • Is technologically possible

Example 1: It would be unreasonable for a person with a disability to ask that the housing provider assist them with their meals, unless the housing provider were in the business of providing meal support (such as in an assisted living facility).

Example 2: If a person becomes disabled and can no longer access their 3rd floor apartment in a non-elevator building, it would be unreasonable (and probably architecturally impossible) to request the landlord allow the tenant to build an elevator.

Read the HUD/DOJ memos on accommodation and modifications for more information and contact the Housing Equality Center if you have any questions. If you have questions about the above information or need assistance with requesting an accommodation or modification in PA, contact us.