This case involved a dispute between a homeowners association (Association) and a disabled condominium owner (Owner) over an accommodation due to disability that was requested by Owner. Owner, who suffers from pulmonary hypertension and other disabilities, established that she needed ready access to her rolling walker to get to and from her unit to the building lobby. Because she couldnt lift or fold the walker, she used a cane to go to and from her car and insisted on leaving her walker in her buildings lobby when she left the building. When she left, building staff personnel would store the walker in a room behind the concierge desk until she returned. Owner disapproved of the walker being put in the storage room until she returned and contended that it had to be available for her to independently retrieve it when she returned to the building.
In an effort to satisfy Owner’s accommodation due to disability, Association offered her four different alternatives to her leaving the walker in the lobby the entire period she was gone:
- Staff would store the walker and return it to her in the lobby;
- Staff could deliver the walker to her car before she got out of it;
- Staff doorman could load the walker into and remove it from her trunk;
- Owner could park in the buildings indoor valet-parking garage where she could leave her walker near the valet station.
Owner rejected all of Associations accommodation due to disability alternative proposals and filed suit against Association, its manager and president, insisting that she had a right to leave the walker in the building lobby under the Fair Housing Amendments Act. The District Court dismissed Owners complaint after finding that keeping her walker in the building lobby was her personal preferred accommodation, but there was no showing that it was necessary. Owner then appealed the dismissal of her action.
The appellate court ruled that, while Owner may have preferred to have access to her walker without having to wait for a staffer to assist her, there was no showing that she actually needed to leave the walker in the lobby of her building. To enjoy her home, she needed to have access to her walker without having to stand for minutes, and alternatives that were proposed by Association satisfied those needs. The Fair Housing Amendments Act guarantees a reasonable accommodation that satisfies a disabled persons needs, and not a particular accommodation due to disability that the disabled person wants. Thus, the dismissal by the lower District Court was affirmed by the appellate court.
See case decision: Vorchheimer_v._Philadelphian_Owners_Ass’n