What is a reasonable modification under the Fair Housing Act?
A reasonable modification is a structural change made to existing premises,
occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability, in order to afford
such person full enjoyment of the premises. Reasonable modifications can include
structural changes to interiors and exteriors of dwellings and to common and
public use areas. A request for a reasonable modification may be made at any
time during the tenancy. The Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider or
homeowners’ association to refuse to allow a reasonable modification to the
premises when such a modification may be necessary to afford persons with
disabilities full enjoyment of the premises.
To show that a requested modification may be necessary, there must be an
identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested modification and the
individual’s disability. Further, the modification must be “reasonable.”
Examples of modifications that typically are reasonable include widening
doorways to make rooms more accessible for persons in wheelchairs; installing
grab bars in bathrooms; lowering kitchen cabinets to a height suitable for
persons in wheelchairs; adding a ramp to make a primary entrance accessible for
persons in wheelchairs; or altering a walkway to provide access to a public or
common use area. These examples of reasonable modifications are not exhaustive.