Touro Law Review


Beth M. Gazes


The Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) as well as the New York State Human Rights Law (“HRL”) provide, inter alia, that qualifying individuals shall be granted reasonable modifications or accommodations to afford such individuals either full enjoyment of the premises or an equal opportunity to enjoy their dwelling, respectively. Both laws likely extend to common areas of the development but arrive at this protection in different ways. Namely, through the FHA’s implementing rules (“Rules”) and with guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), courts have easily interpreted the FHA to extend to common areas but stop short at expecting the community to pay for modifications. However, the HRL is less explicit, and at least one court has held that it does not even apply to condominiums or homeowners associations. This article will briefly explain the significance of the community association governing documents and the business judgment rule within the context of reasonable modifications and discrimination. It will analyze whether modifications and accommodations are viewed as mutually exclusive; discuss general rights and obligations under the FHA and HRL concerning modifications to common areas. Furthermore, it will also address the application of the modification requirement to condominium and homeowners associations; explore some relevant case law; and examine the reasonableness standard.