Under the Fair Housing Act, there are requirements with respect to “accommodations” and “modifications.” “Accommodations” are requests to be exempt from certain rules or policies such as a request to have a service animal when there are pet rules that would exclude that particular type or breed of animal. “Modifications” are physical changes to the property to enable a disabled person to use the property in the same manner as others. As an example, a modification is often requested for an alteration to the exterior of a building to allow the construction of a wheelchair ramp or addition of a sidewalk for ease of access to the dwelling or building entrance from a parking area. The distinction is important because reasonable accommodations are undertaken at association expense, while modifications are done at the expense of the party requesting the modification. It is wise for management or association officers to discuss with their counsel any owner request which appears to implicate the Fair Housing Act. Complaints alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act are investigated by the Virginia Fair Housing Office which has the authority to impose substantial financial and other penalties. It is considerably less expensive for counsel to help you avoid legal minefields and thereby avoid substantial financial penalties permitted under the Act. We have substantial experience in advising associations on Fair Housing Issues as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.