The bill modifies the accessible housing standards and specifications exception process for housing for which building plans are submitted to a governmental unit on or after July 1, 2023. A governmental unit may only grant exceptions to any particular accessible housing standard or specification when the governmental unit determines that the standard or specification is technically infeasible and would create an undue hardship. The determination must be in writing and must articulate the relevant undue hardship.
Similarly, the bill requires that the alteration of walls or defining boundaries in housing that was under construction prior to July 1, 2023, must comply with certain minimum alteration requirements, unless there is a determination of undue hardship by the relevant governmental unit. However, even if a governmental unit makes a determination of undue hardship, the alterations must still comply with the minimum alteration requirements to the maximum extent feasible.
The bill establishes that failure to comply with certain standards for accessible housing constitutes discrimination on the basis of a disability jointly and severally by the owner of the relevant property and any construction professionals who participate in the noncompliant construction or alteration of the relevant property. The bill creates a civil action for an individual with a disability subject to a failure or the attorney general.
The bill requires that certain new construction projects and alterations provide a certain number of type B dwelling units or type B multistory dwelling units, and in some cases at least one type A dwelling unit or type A multistory dwelling unit, based on the number of dwelling units in the construction project or alteration.
The bill prohibits a landlord from refusing a request by an individual with a disability to make modifications, at the individual's own expense, necessary to afford the individual the full enjoyment of the property.
The bill requires newly constructed housing to have:
- At least one building entrance on an accessible route, unless doing so would be an undue hardship;
- Fire alarms that are accessible to individuals with a disability, so long as the dwelling unit does not require individuals to purchase their own fire alarms; and
- Emergency exits that are accessible to individuals with a disability.
The bill also states that a failure to ensure the following qualifies as discrimination against an individual with a disability:
- That all mailboxes assigned to dwelling units are fully accessible to any individual with a disability who lives in those dwelling units; and
- That all signage in dwelling units, including directories and elevator buttons, is accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Lastly, the bill authorizes a court to extend:
- The answer date in an eviction proceeding if the defendant files a written request with the court for a reasonable accommodation pursuant to prohibited unfair housing practices; and
- The hearing date for a hearing required during a foreclosure proceeding if the borrower files a written request with the court for a reasonable accommodation pursuant to prohibited unfair housing practices.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)