On April 30, 2013 HUD and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a Joint Statement announcing new compliance guidance to assist property owners in complying with the Fair Housing Act’s Design and Construction Accessibility requirements.
Importantly, the question-and-answer format guidance does not make any substantive changes to the existing law. Instead, it seeks to offer broader compliance information about the existing rules in areas they believe merit additional clarification.
Among other things, it revisits the key requirements of both acts and their applicability to covered properties as well as more nuanced requirements of the law relative to ground floor units, lofts or sunken living rooms, finished living space, additions to pre-1991 properties, elevator properties, and others.
The notice could indicate a heightened level of scrutiny in this area. In a press release announcing the notice, HUD says it has investigated 300 cases of alleged accessibility violations since 2009; DOJ has filed 19 cases in the same time period.
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