civil rights advice

Dear Susie,

I live in a large apartment complex with an on-site parking lot. I use a wheelchair and need a parking space with an access aisle and curb cut. Our parking lot already has several accessible parking spaces with these features, but the spaces are usually full. I don’t want to take a space away from another person with a disability who needs it, but I also need to use one of these spaces. What do I do?


Looking for a Space


Dear Looking for a Space,

People with disabilities have the right to request reasonable accommodations in housing. A reasonable accommodation is a change, exemption, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service so that a person with a disability can have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their home. Asking your landlord to assign an additional accessible parking space to you would be considered a reasonable accommodation request.

In order to request a reasonable accommodation, you only need to submit documentation that verifies you have a disability and explains the relationship between your disability and the reasonable accommodation. If your disability is obvious, you do not need to submit documentation verifying your disability. The same is true for the relationship between your disability and the reasonable accommodation—you wouldn’t need to submit documentation if the relationship is obvious. As your disability and disability related need for an accessible parking space are both obvious due to the fact that you use a wheelchair, you do not need to submit documentation verifying either[i].

After you submit your reasonable accommodation request, your housing provider should engage in an interactive process with you to determine which space should be assigned to you. There may be a space available next to a curb cut or access aisle already. If the space you need is not accessibly designed already, a housing provider should put in curb cuts or designate an access aisle if needed at no cost to you.

If you are unsure of how to submit a reasonable accommodation request or believe your request was unfairly denied, you can reach the ERC by calling 202-234-3062 or by filling out a short form online. Once we conduct an intake with you, we may be able to advocate on your behalf or assist you with filing a fair housing complaint. Please note we are not able to offer legal advice. Nothing in this column should be construed as legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney.


The Equal Rights Center

[i] Not all disabilities are obvious, and just because a disability isn’t obvious doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have disability related protections under the Fair Housing Act. To learn more about what documentation a person would need to submit to their housing provider if their disability or disability related need for a reasonable accommodation is not obvious, check out this advice column.

Have a question about housing discrimination in the Washington DC metro? Want to a report a potential instance of housing discrimination? Contact Susie by calling 202-234-3062.

There are many things to consider when finding a home. Discrimination isn’t one of them.

In 2017, The ERC launched its Fair Housing Advice Column! The Equal Rights Center is the only fair housing organization in Greater Washington, DC providing direct services to individuals that believe they may have experienced housing discrimination. We know that many residents of Greater Washington, DC have questions about possible housing discrimination as they search for and reside in their homes. We are here to educate residents on their fair housing rights and advocate on their behalf.

We want to hear from you! Please reach out to us with your questions, scenarios and inquiries. We will be publishing some of your entries (anonymously) with responses from our expert fair housing staff.

For immediate information on discrimination and protected classes in the Greater Washington area, please visit our Fair Housing Page. Additionally, if you feel you have experienced or witnessed housing discrimination and would like to report it, please submit a lead here.

ERC Logo

Start typing and press Enter to search