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If I’m Disabled, Can I Sue my Apartment Complex for Failure to Accommodate Parking Request?


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Under California and federal laws, reasonable accommodations must be made for disabled tenants who are renting from an apartment building or complex. These include reasonable modifications to the structure, allowing service animals, and providing disabled parking spots closer to the building or the tenant’s unit. In short, disabled renters must have equal access to their apartment and common spaces in the building as tenants without a disability.

If you are denied accessible parking as a renter, you may have grounds to sue your apartment complex and receive compensation for your monetary losses. However, these cases involve complex procedures and expert knowledge of laws concerning anti-discrimination and landlord-tenant disputes.

Our attorneys are here to assist you with you a case of failure to provide reasonable accommodations by a landlord if you are a tenant with a disability. Contact us right away if you need answers to the following questions:

  • My apartment manager won’t provide me accommodations at my apartment even though I am disabled. Can I sue?
  • Can I file a lawsuit against the building owner for failure to provide accommodations at my apartment building for my disabled roommate, son, mother, father, etc.?
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What are my Rights as a Disabled Tenant?

As a renter with a disability, you are protected from housing discrimination under several laws: the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Under California law, a disability refers to a wide variety of physical and mental impairments, such as heart disease, loss of vision or hearing, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, and Autistic Spectrum disorders. However, the ADA has a more narrow definition for what it means to have a disability. Basically, federal laws define a disability as a condition that substantially limits one or more basic life functions if left untreated. Thus, it’s unlikely to include illnesses that are fully treatable with medication, even if the condition is permanent.

That’s why each person’s disability is judged on a case-by-case basis in California. As a tenant, you must show that the disability creates substantial limitations in your basic life activities. If you have permanent heart condition for example, that makes it difficult for you to walk, that would qualify as a disability under state and federal laws. Thus, you would have the right to ask your apartment complex for parking accommodations, like a spot that’s close to your building.

Determining your eligibility under the ADA, FHA or FEHA can be quite complicated, so it’s best to work with an attorney that’s experienced in disability discrimination cases.

What are Reasonable Accommodations Under Federal Law?

According to the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), owners of buildings that were built after March 13, 1991 are required to provide reasonable modifications if the structure contains at least 4 rental units and one elevator. The law defines discrimination against the disabled as “a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.”

So, if you live in an apartment building or apartment complex with the requirements mentioned above, you are entitled to parking accommodations as a disabled tenant. Management companies and landlords that violate these laws can be sued for monetary compensation, as you will see in the real-life case of Green v. Mercy Housing Inc.

Example of a Landlord’s Failure to Provide Closer Parking because of a Disability

In Green v. Mercy Housing Inc., a tenant’s lawsuit alleging discrimination due to the loss of his disability parking spot was allowed to continue by the California federal court in spite of the landlord’s request to have it dismissed.

The lawsuit involves a tenant with diabetes, who moved into an apartment managed by the defendant. The tenant’s diabetes restricted his mobility, and he was assured by the company that he would be given a handicap accessible parking spot near the building.

After the tenant moved in, he found out that the landlord had leased the spot to a day care center. The tenant was forced to use a parking spot that was further from the building and was near a concrete wall, which made it difficult for him to exit the vehicle. The tenant also had other complaints against the landlord, including racial discrimination.

Tensions between Mercy Housing and the tenant escalated to where the tenant was given 60 days to vacate the premises based on violations of the lease. The tenant sued the landlord for violating the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the FHA (federal Fair Housing Act), and numerous state laws. In turn, the landlord filed a motion to request that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Some of the allegations made by the tenant were dismissed by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. However, the court allowed the lawsuit to continue on the basis that the landlord may have violated the FHA. They based their decision on the following:

  • The individual was diagnosed with a disability as defined by the Fair Housing Act.
  • The building management knew about or should have known about the tenant’s disability.
  • Accommodation was necessary due to the tenant’s disability, i.e., providing a parking space near the building with enough room on each side.
  • Tenant had adequately proven his case under the FHA to show that his request for a parking spot near his apartment was reasonable.

As you can see, the rights of disabled tenants are taken seriously by the court system, and those who are in violation of these rights can face heavy consequences. That’s why you should contact us right away if you find yourself asking, “Can I sue my landlord for failure to accommodate parking request at my apartment building if I have a disability?”

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Other Forms of Discrimination against Tenants

In the previous section, we mentioned that the tenant had other grievances against the leasing company, aside from the refusal to provide him with an accessible parking spot. The tenant also alleged racial discrimination, which is illegal under the Fair Housing Act. This is another example of discrimination that many California renters struggle with. Our law firm is here to fight for you and the compensation you deserve if you’ve been discriminated by your landlord on the following basis:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Sex / gender preference
  • Disability, physical or mental
  • Religion
  • Family / marital status
Legal Advice from a Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Attorney

Discrimination and retaliation by a landlord are difficult to live with, and many tenants feel like they’re stuck in a nightmare situation or forced to find somewhere else to live. Fortunately, various laws are in place to protect disabled individuals when landlords fail to make the necessary accommodations or modifications.

The legal team of DTLA Law Group is here for you day and night if you need information on your rights and legal options. We have been fighting for justice on behalf of California tenants for many years, and we are ready to do the same for you. To learn how we can assist you, contact us to schedule a free case evaluation. We can also help you with a free second opinion if you filed a claim already, but there are questions or concerns that you would like to discuss with another attorney.

We provide a Zero Fee Guarantee to all our clients, as we are a contingency based law firm. You will pay nothing upfront, nor will you receive any bills from us at any point during your case. We account for all legal fees when we demand payment from the defendant, so our expenses are included in your settlement award. That’s the only way we get paid, so we guarantee that you won’t be responsible for any legal fees if we don’t win your case.

If you’re ready to speak to a lawyer with experience in failure to provide disability accommodations lawsuits, contact us today.


 

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