Betty is an 85-year-old tenant in Central Valley, California. She has mobility and balance impairments and was worried that she might fall in the entryway to her apartment if she didn’t have something to hold on to. She told her landlord that she would like to install a handrail and that she was willing to pay for it.
Betty’s landlord, however, did not grant her request to make this modification. An advocate from DRC’s Fresno office gave the landlord a written request for a reasonable accommodation. The advocate explained that due to Betty’s disability, she needed the handrail as a reasonable modification.
The apartment complex manager soon agreed to the request and allowed a handrail to be installed.
Betty and DRC relied on federal and state fair housing laws that require landlords to allow reasonable modifications for tenants with disabilities. See 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(A), Cal. Govt. Code § 12927(c)(1); Cal. Civ. Code § 54.1(b)(3)(A). 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. Failure to provide a necessary reasonable modification constitutes discrimination. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(A); 24 C.F.R. § 100.203; See also Loren v. Sasser (11th Cir. 2002) 309 F.3d 1296, 1301-03.