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FAIR HOUSING AND MAINTENANCE - Get your priorities straight!


This is the second in a series of fair housing posts related to maintenance (just so you to know in case you want to read the previous post or stay tuned for some others).  A question for those of you who are maintenance professionals – today you have 5 work orders; which resident gets theirs seen to first?  You should have a written policy that answers that for you, perhaps based on the type of work order, when it was received, or the time that will need to be put into addressing the problem or the situation.  But whatever your policy may be, here is what you need to know.  If a person with a disability (PWD) needs (not wants, but needs) their work order addressed ahead of others, you likely will have to do that.  This is called a “reasonable accommodation” and it is required of you under the Fair Housing Act for any PWD.   Let me illustrate…


It is hot, muggy and miserable, and you have 5 work orders to repair ACs.  You would normally fix each AC in the order in which you received the work orders.  Everyone is anxious and cranky with the heat, you are overwhelmed (with both the heat and the work), and then the last resident to put in an AC work order informs you that their child has cystic fibrosis which impacts that child’s breathing ability, and that with the oppressive heat their child will be having more difficulty breathing.  Guess what?  That resident has a child who is a PWD and now you have the legal obligation to fix that resident’s AC first, despite your policy on “first come, first serve” as to work orders.  This is the reasonable accommodation mandated by the law.


There are many parallels to this.  You likely must adjust your snow removal sequence to first clear the walkway of a PWD who uses a wheelchair.  You will likely have to prioritize a simple toilet repair even if there are two bathrooms in the apartment when a PWD who uses a wheelchair cannot get into the bathroom with the operable toilet. [Check out my previous “Hurray for May!” post for another type of reasonable accommodation.  You may have to use different paints, solvents, extermination chemicals or cleaning supplies because a PWD has certain sensitivities to them (or alternatively give the PWD advance notice of the use of these if such use cannot be avoided).]  


Timing is everything!  Get your priorities in the right order, which may require a re-order for a PWD who needs a reasonable accommodation.


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