Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


SINGLE FAMILY HOMES

Do the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements apply to detached single-family homes?

No, the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements only apply to covered multifamily dwellings--buildings that have four or more units. In buildings that have an elevator, all of the units are covered. If the building does not have an elevator, all of the ground floor units are covered. This includes single-family homes when there are four or more in the building (for example, condominiums). However, detached single-family houses are not covered by the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements. Although the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements may not apply to detached single-family homes, the Fair Housing Act's other provisions, such as nondiscrimination in sales, rental, or financing practices, do apply.

Other laws may require accessibility in detached single-family houses.

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Do any accessibility requirements apply to detached single-family homes?

Detached single family homes that are funded in any way by federal, state, or local funds may be required to be accessible under laws other than the Fair Housing Act. These laws, particularly Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, have requirements for accessibility. For example, detached single family houses funded through the HOPE VI program operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), whether for sale or rental, must comply with HUD's requirements for Section 504. This includes making at least 5% of the units accessible to persons with mobility impairments and at least 2% of the units accessible to persons with vision and hearing impairments. The applicable standard for compliance is the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standard or UFAS.

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Is a single family home which is being designed and constructed to be a group home covered by the design and construction requirements if it contains four or more sleeping rooms and shared kitchens or baths?

A single family house that will be occupied by four or more unrelated persons that functions as one distinct household, such as what is commonly referred to as a "group home", is not considered to be a "covered multifamily dwelling" for purposes of the application of the design and construction requirements of the Act, even if it contains four or more sleeping areas. This interpretation is consistent with case precedent and the position of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice with respect to the application of zoning and land use restrictions to single family group homes.

On the other hand, each sleeping room occupied by a separate household in a building with shared toileting or kitchen facilities is a separate dwelling unit, and buildings with four or more of these sleeping rooms are covered multifamily dwellings for purposes of the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements.

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