The Fair Housing Act lays out seven basic design and construction requirements that must be met for all "covered multifamily dwellings" designed and constructed "for first occupancy" after March 13, 1991. Failure to adhere to these requirements violates fair housing laws.
These requirements are:
Requirement 1: Building must have at least one accessible entrance on an accessible route (unless it is impractical to do so because of the terrain or unusual characteristics of the site). An accessible route means a continuous, unobstructed path connecting accessible elements and spaces within a building or site that can be negotiated by a person with a disability who uses a wheelchair, and that is also safe for and usable by people with other disabilities. An accessible entrance is a building entrance connected by an accessible route to public transit stops, accessible parking and passenger loading zones, or public streets and sidewalks.
Requirement 2: Public and common use areas must be accessible. Public and common-use areas cover all parts of the housing outside individual units, including parking lots, storage areas, indoor and outdoor recreational areas, lobbies, mailrooms and mailboxes, and laundry areas.
Requirement 3: All doors must be useable, allowing passage into and within all premises must be wide enough to allow passage by persons using wheelchairs.
Requirement 4: Presence of an accessible route into and through the dwelling unit.
Requirement 5: All controls, including light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls must be in accessible locations.
Requirement 6: Reinforced walls in bathrooms for later installation of grab bars. The law does not require installation of grab bars in bathrooms, but bathroom walls must be reinforced so grab bars can be added when needed.
Requirement 7: Kitchens and bathrooms must be designed and constructed so an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver in the space provided.
For technical help or more information on accessible design and construction, contact: FairHousingFirst.org
Joint Statement of HUD and the Department of Justice on Accessibility (Design & Construction) under the Fair Housing Act.