Q: What are the definitions of disability and when identified, how must the agent or landlord handle issues of confidentiality and applicant’s requests for modification?
A: Disabled persons have two special rights under the law to insure equal rights in housing and they are:
1. Right of Reasonable Modification – a physical change made to a housing unit that enables the person to have full use and enjoyment of unit.
2. Right of Reasonable Accommodation – a change or alteration to a rule, policy, practice or service to allow person equal opportunity to enjoy their tenancy.
– Management or landlord is not required to provide modification until applicant or resident makes a request.
– Request should be in writing, but applicant or resident is not required to use management’s standard form.
– If request is made orally, or person is unable or unwilling to put it in writing, it is still to be considered a request and management should put it in writing for the tenant or applicant. Then have it reviewed and initialed or signed if possible.
– If a request is clearly necessary and related to the person’s disability, for instance widening a doorway for someone whose wheelchair will not comfortably fit through then no verification is necessary, however:
– If applicant requests something that does not appear necessary in view of observable disability, verification of necessity of request is allowed.
– In addition, if there is no obvious evidence of disability, as in case of mental disability, heart condition, etc., you may ask for verification that:
1. Person meets state definition of disability.
2. What they are asking for is necessary.
3. It is related to their disability.