A community in Aurora, Colorado is in the middle of a big fight over the removal of a wheelchair ramp by the association.  Although the ramp was put back up by the fire department, disabled residents living on the second and third floor units in the community now want the association to provide handicap accommodations to them in case there is a fire and they need to exit the building quickly.  The Fair Housing Amendments Act (“FHAA”) applies to homeowner associations and does require reasonable accommodations or modifications to be provided for disabled residents.  What constitutes reasonable accommodations or modifications under the FHAA?  A reasonable accommodation may be made by waiving or modifying a particular rule, policy, procedure or practice in order for a handicapped or disabled person to have equal access to and enjoyment of their housing.  For example, the association should grant a blind person’s request to have a seeing-eye dog, even if the association has a rule against pets.  A “reasonable modification” is a structural, architectural or other physical change to a unit, building, or common element (made at the handicapped resident’s expense) in order to provide a handicapped or disabled person use or equal access.  Examples of reasonable modifications are wheelchair ramps, pool lifts, modifications to doors to accommodate wheel chairs, or grab bars.  What do you think the association should do in this particular case?

Elina B. Gilbert
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