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New guidance on accessibility requirements for multifamily housing released

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 5/9/2013

New guidance released last week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) reinforces the Fair Housing Act requirement that certain multifamily housing be designed and constructed so that it is accessible to persons with disabilities. Read the new guidance.

“Today, more than 30 million Americans use a wheelchair or have difficulty walking or climbing stairs and they have every right to live in housing that is accessible to them,” stated John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This new guidance promotes access and helps developers construct housing that complies with the Fair Housing Act from the start so they don’t have to retrofit later.”

The guidance states that the Fair Housing Act requires all covered multifamily dwellings designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.  In buildings with four or more units and at least one elevator, all units and public and common use areas are subject to the design and construction requirements.  In buildings with four or more dwelling units and no elevator, all ground floor units and public and common use areas are subject to the requirements.  Some units may also be subject to additional accessibility requirements as mandated by other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Read HUD’s full press release.