|Date: February 1, 2005|
ICC Accessibility "Safe Harbors"
On October 24, 2008, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a final rule amending its Fair Housing Act regulations. This final rule does two things:
Updates the references to the 2003 ANSI A117.1 standard; and
Codifies HUD’s prior 10 safe harbors.
This final rule is also important for what it does not do. It does not change the scoping requirements or the substance of the existing accessible design and construction requirements. (See "Background" below.)
The current safe harbors are listed below. (In addition, see the "Technical Notes" below):
Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines (FHAG), March 6, 1991 in conjunction with the June 28, 1994, Supplement to Notice of Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines: Questions and Answers about the Guidelines.
- Fair Housing Act Design Manual, published by HUD in 1996 and updated in 1998.
- ANSI A117.1-1986, in conjunction with the Fair Housing Act, HUD’s regulations, and the Guidelines for the scoping requirements.
- ANSI A117.1-1992, in conjunction with the Fair Housing Act, HUD’s regulations, and the Guidelines for the scoping requirements.
- ANSI A117.1-1998, in conjunction with the Fair Housing Act, HUD’s regulations, and the Guidelines for the scoping requirements.
- ANSI A117.1-2003, in conjunction with the Fair Housing Act, HUD’s regulations, and the Guidelines for the scoping requirements.
- 2000 ICC Code Requirements for Housing Accessibility (CRHA) with errata.
- 2000 IBC as amended with the 2001 Supplement.
- 2003 IBC with condition concerning Section 1104.1, which covers the requirements for accessible building entrances for Type B units, and Section 1107.7, which offers exceptions to that section based on site impracticality. Specifically, HUD wants to make it clear that that buildings covered by the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements must provide an accessible pedestrian route from site arrival points to the building entrance.
- 2006 IBC with January 31, 2007 errata concerning missing text.
Both disability advocates and the building industry have long agreed that the biggest obstacle to widespread compliance with federal accessibility requirements has been the fact that the requirements were not written in building code language.
Since 1993, NMHC has led the lobbying effort to have the Fair Housing Act's requirements written into building code language. We worked with the code organizations to refine the model codes to better reflect the federal accessibility requirements. And in 1997, we led the coalition effort to have HUD adopt the International Building Code (IBC) as a safe harbor, including going to Congress to have lawmakers force HUD to expedite its review of the codes.
Before HUD granted safe harbor status to the model building codes, apartment developers often mistakenly assumed that if they build their properties to code that they were also complying with the accessibility requirements that were enacted in 1998.
To comply with the FHAG, developers must use the IBC that contains the FHAG scoping provisions as well as the ANSI A117.1 accessibility standard technical provisions for a Type B dwelling unit. These provisions first appeared in the 1998 edition of the ANSI A117.1 standard.
Starting with the 2003 ANSI A117.1, accessible dwelling units were divided into three types: (1) fully accessible units, which meet the requirements for projects that receive government funding (e.g., Section 504); (2) the less restrictive Type A units, which the building codes require 2 percent of a property’s units to conform to; and (3) even less restrictive Type B units, which were developed specifically to comply with the HUD Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines (FHAG).
In a few exceptions, however, the Type B requirements exceed the FHAG requirements. Specifically, in the 1998, 2003 and forthcoming 2009 ANSI 117.1, the access requirements for washers and dryers goes beyond FHAG. The FHAG covers washers and dryers in common areas, but does impose any requirements for washers and dryers in individual dwelling units.
The 2009 ANSI A117.1 goes even further by requiring electrical panels to be accessible so persons with disabilities can repair minor electrical problems, such as a blown circuit breaker. It also requires a maneuvering clearance on the inside of the dwelling unit entrance door. Previously, such maneuvering clearance was only required on the exterior of the door. The additional maneuvering requirement was considered a safety issue to allow persons with mobility impairments to exit the dwelling unit in emergency situations.
For more information, contact:
Vice President of Building Codes