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45 Years of Impact Spotlight

Fighting for Full Compliance with the Fair Housing Act in Design and Construction

The FHA requires that all newly constructed “covered multifamily dwellings” must be built so that they are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. In 2014, DRP filed Fair Housing Council of Southeastern PA v. Wagner Enterprises LTD, et al. challenging a housing developer’s violation of the FHA’s accessibility requirements for newly constructed condominiums in Northampton County. After engaging in discovery, the parties entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement and the defendant agreed to: (1) retrofit curb ramps and a sidewalk in the development that did not meet FHA guidelines so that there are accessible routes to the common areas; (2) lower mail boxes within reach range; (3) install accessible entrances, interior doorways, and thermostats in four defendant-owned units; and (4) provide an opportunity for owners of up to 5 additional condominiums to request accessibility modifications to be completed by defendant.

In 2020, DRP filed Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsylvania v. SJ Lofts against the owner/developer and builder of the Michener Lofts, a recently constructed 44-unit apartment building in Philadelphia, alleging that they violated the “design and construction requirements” of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) by failing to provide accessible doors to bathrooms, failing to install thermostats and electrical outlets at accessible heights, and the failure to ensure accessibility of common area balcony doors.