Reserved Parking for the Handicapped Pursuant to the Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Amendments Act (F.H.A.A.) prohibits discrimination against the handicapped. In addition to the obvious, i.e., a housing provider cannot refuse housing to a handicapped person, a housing provider also has an affirmative obligation as a landlord to cooperate with tenants in making “reasonable accommodations” for their handicapped.
A recent case has clarified and reminded us of that obligation as it relates to designated parking spaces for handicapped tenants. In Gittelman v. Woodhaven Condominium Association, the Federal District Court of New Jersey has denied the motion of a condominium association to dismiss a claim brought against it for violating the F.H.A.A. based upon its refusal to designate a parking space immediately outside of a handicapped resident=s unit for his exclusive use. In so ruling the Court has pointed out that one of the examples sited by H.U.D. in their regulation for reasonable accommodations would be “. . . the reserving of a parking space in front of a unit in an apartment building in order to accommodate a tenant who is mobility impaired.”
The lesson for all owners and managers of mobile home parks therefore is that should you have general parking, as opposed to limited driveway parking, and you have a resident who is mobility impaired, if that resident requests that you designate a reserved parking space for his or her exclusive use immediately adjacent to his or her mobile home lot (assuming there is parking immediately adjacent to the mobile home lot), then you must make the reasonable accommodation to comply with that request. Compliance with the “reasonable accommodation” provisions of the F.H.A.A. in other circumstances would depend upon the facts and circumstances of those cases.
By Christopher J. Hanlon, Esq., a NJ Landlord/Tenant Attorney
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