Dear Fair Housing Lady,
I have several back problems, one which does not respond to any pain therapy. I also have two crushed kneecaps that I have been able to quiet so as to not need surgery. I also have a wonderful service dog.
Several years ago I measured a route for me to “walk” my wheelchair around a circuit where there are more people and animals for socialization for both me and my service dog. I used two common area driveways to access another, busier street (I live in a quiet cul-de-sac with virtually no dogs)for exercise for both me and my pup as well as socialization for both of us. A neighbor has taken it upon herself to block my ability to use this common area driveway (even though it takes me mere moments and I’m quiet as can be and do no damage) to return to my townhome. Now this area has been given the status of “limited common property” so that the two units that share a driveway can bar anyone they want for any reason. Can I ask for a reasonable accommodation to once again allow me to use that driveway – it does belong to the entire community but it is under the control of only two members. Since I have not been able to do this, my knees hurt more, my do g has gained weight, and all sorts of other problems have occurred. Even though I can reach areas by other routes, that would mean I would have to stay in those areas for several hours for my back and knees to recuperate before returning home by the longer way. I’ve tried three different paths and the pain has kept me from trying again. Can ya help me?
Your story and question validate what I have been saying for a while – the multifamily (apartment) industry is well aware of the requirement to reasonably accommodate PWDs (persons with disabilities such as yourself) but that homeowner and condominium associations remain somewhat clueless. You clearly meet the definition of a PWD and if the facts are as you present them (and Fair Housing Lady has no reason to doubt that this is not the case) you are entitled to reasonable accommodation. So I believe that you can (and should!) ask for the reasonable accommodation of access using a limited common area. You need to absolutely put your request in writing (and send certified mail or through some other method so that you can prove that you sent a request and when) to the association or Board. Tell them that you meet the definition of a PWD under the FHA, that you are making a request for reasonable accommodation and that you want this access, and that you expect a reply in writing within a reasonable period of time – I would think 2-3 weeks would be more than sufficient. If they do not grant your request or ignore it, head for you local fair housing organization – they would love to hear from you. Now I must remind you that even with all this detail, I have not given you legal advice (Fair Housing Lady’s classic disclaimer) but rather I have provided information. I would love to hear further from you as this pans out. Perhaps you will consider an update for me and DFHL readers.Google+
Category: Disability Accomodations