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Valet Parking in Section 8 Housing

Wouldn’t that be nice!  A property manager told me that they have a disabled applicant who is scheduled to move in and is requesting a handicapped parking spot close to her soon to be new HUD subsidized apartment. None of the parking spots near her apartment are designated as “handicapped.” ​Her apartment is situated in the middle of the building, ​so there are several spots that are equally close to her door.

The question becomes; Can the property manager refuse to put up a new sign and suggest ​that ​ she use the handicap spots already marked as such or do we have to comply with her request although the spot will not be accessible?? Would a “reserved” sign make more sense??

If a Disabled Parking sign is placed, anybody with a disabled placard can park in that spot. If you want to reserve a particular spot for a particular tenant, a reserved sign might make more sense.  This is clearly a Reasonable Accommodation request.

The property manager says; “I get that it is a Reasonable Accommodation request, but if I put up a “reserve​d” sign I will have everyone wanting one!​”​

It is quite common​ to note that, ​when ​people​ see that someone else is getting some special treatment​, they ​also​ ​may feel entitled.  However, we can’t NOT grant Reasonable Accommodations because we live in fear that everyone else will want one.

There should always be a formal process when granting Reasonable Accommodation requests.  Treating this as a request for a R​easonable A​ccommodation will prevent having to give “everyone” a reserved parking spot.  ​Only those​ who need one because of a disability would get one.   If the spot wanted is already assigned to another tenant, you can certainly offer to accommodate by giving ​ that person​ a different parking spot that is ​in equal proximity​ to ​his or her​ apartment.​

This approach has always worked well at most affordable housing properties. Although I’m sure that many of your residents would like to have their favorite parking spots reserved for their exclusive use, in the past very few people have actually submitted a request for this type of R​easonable Accommodation.

Whatever you decide, you should always make sure you are in compliance with Fair Housing and your R​easonable Accommodation policies. As an extra step​, you​ may want to reach out to your Section 504 coordinator.  Better yet, sign up now for a Fair Housing/Section 504 class!  Learn more about Reasonable Accommodations!

Also remember that not granting a reasonable accommodation request could land you in court paying a lot more money then it would for the cost of the accommodation.  Check out Exhibit 2-5 and Exhibit 2-6 in the HUD Occupancy Handbook (HUD 4350.3, Change 4) for examples.