S.B. from New Haven County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo is individual stand-alone units with a garage & driveway that accommodates a second car, therefore unit owners are not allowed to park in the street. One owner claimed that his heart condition makes it “physically stressful” to move his car daily and requests a handicap spot in front of his house. We denied, and he filed a civil rights claim.
Mister Condo replies:
S.B., I am sorry your association has to defend itself against a civil rights claim. My best advice here is to hire an attorney to defend the association so as to minimize the financial claim levied against the association. Let’s break down what has happened. Under the guidelines of the FHA, the association is a housing provider. As such, you do need to listen to the requests of all unit owners. In the event of a unit owner claiming a disability, the association must make “reasonable accommodation” meaning the request must be reviewed by the Board to determine if the request can “reasonably” be accommodated. The Board is not forced to give in to any request, especially if the request is too expensive or unreasonable. At the same time, if the accommodation can be granted reasonably, the Board should do so. In this case, it may come to a court decision or a mediated resolution. My advice to all Board is that they should treat all requests based on disability with kid gloves. Spend the money upfront on a legal opinion from a qualified attorney. Denying such a request can have consequences as your Board is experiencing first-hand. Once the suit is filed, it is time for an attorney to take over for the association. I hope it goes your way. All the best.