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What is a reasonable modification?

The Federal Fair Housing Act “FHA” provides protections for people with disabilities. In addition to a prohibition against discriminating against someone because they are disabled, the FHA has two affirmative duties for those covered by the Act. One of them is to provide a reasonable accommodation. The other is that a housing provider must permit people with disabilities to make reasonable modifications to their dwelling or the common areas at the disabled person’s expense that are necessary for the disabled person to use or enjoy the dwelling.

The Americans with Disabilities Act “ADA” has a similar provision. Under the ADA, a public accommodation (usually a commercial entity) must remove architectural barriers to the place of public accommodation necessary to afford the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations provided by the public accommodation to individuals with disabilities if it is readily achievable. Removal of architectural barriers are readily achievable if it can be accomplished with little cost and does not prove burdensome or substantially alter the goods or services provided by the public accommodation. Under the ADA, unlike the FHA, the public accommodation pays for the cost of barrier removal. If the barrier removal is not readily achievable, the public accommodation must normally make a reasonable accommodation to provide the goods, services, facilities, etc. to the disable person.

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