Sometimes, Accommodations Aren’t Legally Required
When a resident requests a reasonable accommodation, boards of directors often focus solely on the reasonableness of the specific accommodation. But, if an accommodation isn’t necessary, a board doesn’t even need to consider reasonableness. A recent disability discrimination case in Ohio provides a useful example of how that can play out in an association’s favor.
The community in the case comprises 273 units in two buildings and was home to about 375 people. The association has rules prohibiting residents from having personal grills on their patios or balconies but has installed grills in a common area pavilion for the use of all residents.
The personal grill ban stemmed from, among other things, concerns about open flames in close proximity to the buildings, the nuisance created by unwanted odors and smoke, and the attraction of rodents and small animals.
Over a five-year period beginning in 2013, an owner repeatedly sought an exception to the restriction for a number of reasons — none related to any alleged disability. The association denied his requests.
“Quite frankly, a lot of these accommodation requests unfold like this,” says JoAnn Burnett, an attorney in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office of Becker & Poliakoff who focuses her practice on fair housing and discrimination claims. “The owner makes the request for years, without a claim of disability, and then tries to get a reasonable accommodation.”
Read the full story now and learn why the court’s decision is good news for associations: