Douglas v. Kriegsfeld Corporation 884 A.2d 1109 (2005)

In Douglas v. Kriegsfeld, a tenant (Douglas) with a mood disorder asked for “reasonable accommodation” under the Fair Housing Act. In particular, she wanted time and assistance in cleaning her apartment before the landlord could succeed in an action for possession. The landlord wanted to consider the impact Douglas’s unclean apartment had on other tenants. Although the trial court was willing to consider this factor, the appellate court clarified that the test for establishing a reasonable-accommodation defense focuses on the landlord-tenant relationship, not on the impact one tenant has on other tenants. In particular, the court said:
To establish a reasonable accommodation defense under the Fair Housing Act, the tenant must demonstrate that (1) she suffered from a “handicap” (or “disability”), (2) the landlord knew or should have known of the disability, (3) an accommodation of the disability may be necessary to afford the tenant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy her apartment, (4) the tenant has requested a reasonable accommodation, and (5) the landlord refused to grant a reasonable accommodation.
The court emphasized that each case should be judged on its unique facts, and it remanded the case to the lower court for consideration according to the test it had outlined.

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