Dear Fair Housing Lady: More Parking Questions

| August 20, 2013 | 1 Comment

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Dear Fair Housing Lady:
My name is Bobbie. I attended your Fair Housing seminar on 4-10-13 in Melbourne, FL. I manage a 180 unit Tax Credit community.

I have a resident who had cancer surgery several months ago. He was exercising daily. He recently told me that his doctor said that the exercise was making things worse and he needed to walk as little as possible. He has asked for a handicap sign at his reserved parking space. He brought in a printout from ehow.com. It states that “The sign must inform others that the spot is reserved for a specific tenant and that no one else is allowed to park in the spot”. It also says that “Your landlord may require that you have a handicap parking pass or tags on your car before fulfilling the request”.

Questions:

1) Do I request to see the handicap parking pass?

2) Should I require that he pay for the purchase of the sign? The same as we would if a handicapped person wanted to make an alteration to the apartment.

3) Do I have to put wording on the sign that it is his spot? (If he purchases the sign and has it installed, this would not be an issue for me.)

Thank you for your help,

Bobbie

Fair Housing Lady always appreciates a well-articulated question (or in your case, 3 questions!) that comes with a story (as does yours, thank you very much). First I would remind you (and the DFHL readers, too), that disability is now the number one issue raised in fair housing cases and that more often than not, it is a resident (and not a prospect or applicant) that is raising the issue. While service animal questions are prolific, parking questions also come up quite frequently. I will now respond to Ms. Clark in general and in specific (without, of course, giving legal advice).

The general response is that it seems to me (from watching and reading about fair housing cases and sometimes talking to legal colleagues who handle them) that landlords pretty well never win fair housing parking cases. So the general suggestion is that when faced with a person with disability (PWD) who is requesting some sort of parking arrangement as a reasonable accommodation, just (as the Nike people say) do it.

The specific response I have to offer goes like this:
1) Do I request to see the handicap parking pass? Why would you need to see it? You already seem to know that this resident has a disability – he has had cancer surgery and you likely have noticed that he is not as active as he once was (walking far less than before). And he already has a dedicated parking spot, and is not asking you for anything but signage.
2) Should I require that he pay for the purchase of the sign? Nope, do not ask him to pay for the sign. Cases have held that this cost to a landlord is “de minimus” (meaning “not very much – minimal”). Whether you agree, the courts seem to think that the landlord paying for such signs is reasonable.
3) Do I have to put wording on the sign that it is his spot? You have to put wording on the sign that is what the resident believes is needed to meet his needs. This resident, because he can no longer walk much, believes he needs to be able to come home to his apartment and have access to parking that is where he needs it to be. It will be a challenge for him should he find other people parked where he needs (not wants, but needs) to park – whether those other are disabled or not, it will be a problem if they are parking in his space. So if he wants a reserved spot designated just for him as handicapped parking, then make sure that the sign (which you will pay for) says that.

Which takes me back, full circle, to my general response: landlords pretty well never win fair housing parking cases!

Category: Disability Accomodations

About Nadeen Green: Nadeen Green has been an attorney since 1979. She has taught Fair Housing law to the multi-family housing industry since the Fair Housing Amendments Act when into effect in 1989. She has been asked to speak numerous times for the National Apartment Association and the Multi-Housing World annual conventions. Her reader-friendly articles on Fair Housing appear regularly in industry publications. Nadeen is proud to be Senior Counsel with For Rent Media Solutions, which offers print and online advertising products for all communities, whether through For Rent Magazine®, ForRent.com, Para Rentar, Senior Outlook, After 55, or specialized publications for condominiums and student housing. .

Comments (1)

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  1. Michelle Wood says:

    Great information! Thank you Nadine :)

    I would like to point out that the person asking the question may want to consider the type of sign they install very carefully. If the spot is reserved already perhaps a larger “reserved – all others will be towed” sign is best. I think if they were to put in a handicap sign it may confuse other residents with handicap parking permits.. This could ultimately result in someone parking in the requesting residents spot.

    Just my two cents :) Thank you again Nadine for your always insightful responses.

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