What is a “Reasonable Modification” for Purposes of the Fair Housing Act?

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A reasonable modification is a physical/structural change made to a resident’s living space or to the common areas of a community, which is necessary to enable a resident with a disability to have full enjoyment of the housing. Reasonable modifications can include structural changes to interiors and exteriors of dwellings and to common and public use areas. A request for a reasonable modification may be made at any time during the tenancy. The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider or homeowners’ association to refuse to allow a reasonable modification to the premises when such a modification may be necessary to afford persons with disabilities full enjoyment of the premises.

The cost of the modification is at the expense of the person with a disability, although the owner/landlord may voluntarily pay for the modification.

To show that a requested modification may be necessary, there must be an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested modification and the individual’s disability. Further, the modification must be “reasonable.” Examples of modifications that typically are reasonable include widening doorways to make rooms more accessible for persons in wheelchairs; installing grab bars in bathrooms; lowering kitchen cabinets to a height suitable for persons in wheelchairs; adding a ramp to make a primary entrance accessible for persons in wheelchairs; or altering a walkway to provide access to a public or common use area. These examples of reasonable modifications are not exhaustive.

It is important for all real estate professionals to remember that the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability.  It is equally important for everyone to remember that the Act also requires reasonable accommodation and/or reasonable modification when necessary to accommodate a person with a disability.


To learn more about Fair Housing issues in Michigan (and many other topics affecting Michigan real estate professionals), please visit us at www.123ConEd.com. 123 ConEd LLC (www.123ConEd.com) is a leading online provider of continuing education courses to real estate professionals in Michigan. Our online Michigan real estate con ed courses are fully approved and properly certified by the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth. All of our courses are designed to offer our students the most information, as quickly and economically as possible.

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