Both during and long after the membership application process has been complete, special steps must be taken to ensure that individuals are not discriminated against by the cooperative. Both the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit unfair treatment of handicapped and other protected classes of persons.
As a board, you must deal effectively with these laws in both your treatment of members and applicants. The lawyers with Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak, P.C., have more than a century of combined cooperative housing law experience, and they can help you develop procedures and guidelines that will maximize compliance and minimize any risk to you.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA)
The Fair Housing Act requires that applicants cannot be rejected solely on the basis of their membership in a protected class. These classes include:
- National origin
- Sexual preference
- Marital status
- Familial status
Historically, basic cooperative principles provide for membership without restriction. However, many co-ops are selective in the applicants they approve for membership. As communities of people who share financial obligations and governing responsibilities, it is critical to see that incoming members can successfully adhere to these duties. Our lawyers can assist you in enacting measures that ensure advertising, candidate review and other steps to membership are in compliance with the FHA.
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that entities like cooperatives accommodate the needs of both physically and mentally handicapped persons. In addition to handicap accessible entryways, parking spaces and other facility features, the co-op must also take into consideration rules against pets.
Often, the question is whether a member is entitled to an animal from a legal perspective. Does that person have a doctor's note indicating that the pet is a necessary treatment for a particular ailment? If so, how can the cooperative effectively regulate the presence of other animals in the facility?
Let Us Help You Navigate Co-Op Housing Law
Selecting the correct applicants and maintaining a nondiscriminatory environment can be a significant challenge. The attorneys at Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak, P.C., provide the sound advice and guidance you need to handle a broad range of matters and prevent lawsuits. Contact us today to learn more about our services. We are conveniently located in Greater Detroit and Chicago, and we represent cooperatives nationwide.