We Can Work It Out: Reasonable Accommodation and the Interactive Process Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act

The Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) promotes equal use and enjoyment of housing by prohibiting discrimination against, and requiring reasonable accommodations for, tenants with disabilities. However, it is unclear what exactly is required of the landlord and tenant to fulfill the FHAA’s reasonable accommodation requirement. A minority of courts require the landlord and tenant to engage in an “interactive process,” whereby the landlord and tenant work together to understand the tenant’s limitations and discuss potential accommodations that would create an acceptable housing situation. However, courts remain split on the issue of whether such an interactive process is required under the FHAA. The author highlights ways in which the interactive process upholds the antidiscriminatory goals of the FHAA and serves the best interests of tenants, landlords, and society as a whole. In light of the relative costs and benefits of tenant-landlord communication, the author proposes legislative and agency action to clearly reflect that the interactive process is required under the FHAA.

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