Ask About the ADA

Reserved Parking for Renters

Q: I would like to have a reserved parking space at the apartment complex where I live because I have difficulty walking long distances due to my disability and the parking lot is first come, first serve. Does the ADA require the apartment complex manager to give me an accessible parking space?

A: If you live in a private apartment complex, then the ADA would typically not apply to parking areas that are provided for residents of the complex. However, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) would apply. The FHA requires that housing managers provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. A common example of a reasonable accommodation request in housing relates assigning a person with a disability a reserved parking spot near their unit even though tenant parking is generally on a first come, first served basis.

So while the ADA would not apply in this instance, because none of its titles cover private apartment units, the FHA would apply. A request for this reasonable accommodation can be made under the FHA.

Where can I learn about the Fair Housing Act and how it is enforced?

The FHA is enforced by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). Similar to the ADA, the FHA is a law that is enforced via a complaint process that you can learn about here:

If you would like to learn more about where the FHA applies and who it applies to, you can visit HUD’s Office of FHEO here:

If you want to learn about the design requirements required for dwelling units under the FHA, you can visit Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST here:

Does the ADA apply to all apartments and condominiums?

The ADA does not always apply to apartments and condominiums. In terms of housing, Title II entities (state and local government) have an obligation under the ADA to provide access and services in an accessible manner. Some examples of housing covered under the ADA include areas like correctional facilities, housing authorities, dorms, group homes and long term shelters. If there are areas open to the public in a privately built development, like a leasing office, then the ADA would apply to the leasing office because that is considered a place of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA, but the ADA would not apply to the dwelling units themselves.

However, another law called the Fair Housing Act (FHA), applies to all housing providers—private and public. The FHA prohibits housing providers from discriminating against applicants or residents because of disability. The FHA requires certain design features in newly constructed multi-family developments and it makes it unlawful to refuse “to make reasonable accommodations/modifications in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodation may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.”

Does the ADA apply to schools as well?

Yes, the ADA applies to schools. Title II of the ADA requires schools to make educational instruction, extracurricular activities, and facilities, accessible for all students. In addition to the ADA, other laws such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individual With Disabilities Act (IDEA) offer additional protections.

Accommodations by Municipalities under Title II

Q: I want to attend the monthly meetings of my town board.  As a wheelchair user I am unable to as the meetings are held on a second floor with no elevator.  Do they have to make some accommodation for me?

A: Yes, under Title II of the ADA a government entity must ensure that programs, services, and activities of the town are accessible to people with disabilities. For the monthly meeting of the town board, this could be achieved by relocating the meeting to an accessible location or by providing an interactive video feed that would allow real-time interaction.

What is “undue hardship” mean relative to reasonable accommodations?

“Undue Hardship” under the ADA is when a public entity would incur significant expenses or have significant difficulty in providing the accommodation. Undue hardship should be looked at on an individual basis and should take into account the full resources of the entity when deciding if the effort and expense is beyond what the entity is capable of.


Does the ADA Title I cover short-term disabilities?

When a person has a condition that is considered minor and temporary, such as when they have the flu, the ADA does not count this as a disability. Short-term illness and other impairments may qualify if they are severe. An example might be a person who has undergone hip replacement. They may still be able to meet their job functions but may need an accommodation of light lifting for up to 6 to 8 weeks. The employer would need to consider accommodation requests where it is not an undue burden and would allow the individual to keep working.


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