Association Can Deny Unreasonable Request for Parking Spaces

November 16, 2017
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While responding to a reasonable request for accommodation should be done carefully to avoid liability for the association and a subsequent lawsuit, that doesn’t mean you have to grant all requests. On the contrary, courts often rule that some requests are either overly broad or have no real connection to the member’s disability. Sometimes, both issues are at the center of a case. For example, in September 2017, a court ruled against a resident who accused her community of refusing her requests for reasonable accommodations, including her request to reserve the three parking spaces in front of her condo to prevent her neighbors from parking there. The resident claimed that she had a mental disability and that she needed all three parking spaces because she felt unsafe and harassed when strangers parked in front of her home. Allegedly, she rejected the community’s offer to reserve one designated parking space for her, because the installation of a sign to mark the space would block her view and cause psychological distress. She sued, accusing the community of disability discrimination.

Siding with the community, the court ruled that the resident failed to show that her request for three reserved parking spaces were either necessary or reasonable to accommodate her mental disability. She presented a doctor’s note, but it didn’t explain the nature of her disability or why reserving the three parking spaces in front of her unit was necessary to afford her equal opportunity to use and enjoy her dwelling.

The resident also failed to show that reserving these three parking spaces was a reasonable accommodation. The three parking spaces at issue were among the 150 non-reserved parking spaces at the condo complex and all the condo owners had rights to the spaces. Reserving three of them for the resident couldn’t be done without amending the condo documents and reducing the rights of all other owners. The requested accommodation was unreasonable because her unproven need for the spaces was entirely outweighed by the burden that others would suffer if the accommodation were granted [Burrows v. Cubba, September 2017].

So if a request for reasonable accommodation isn’t something that’s very straightforward, it’s a good idea to consult the association’s attorney. That way, you can make sure you’re doing everything you can to be reasonable—after all, it is called a reasonable accommodation—without jeopardizing the association.