Units Covered by the Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act design and construction requirements apply to "covered multifamily dwellings" designed and constructed "for first occupancy" after March 13, 1991. A building was not designed or constructed for first occupancy if:
• It was occupied by March 13, 1991
• If the last building permit or renewal of a building permit was issued on or before June 15, 1990
Buildings where the last building permit was issued on or before June 15, 1990 are not covered by the design and construction requirements. Even if the last building permit was issued after June 15, 1990, if the property was occupied before March 13, 1991, it is not covered. HUD adopted these dates to allow time for the requirements to be considered during the design and construction phase of new properties.
The "first occupancy" language in the statute has been defined in HUD's Fair Housing Act regulations as "a building that has never before been used for any purpose." This means buildings that are rehabilitated are not covered by the design and construction requirements even if the rehabilitation occurs after March 13, 1991 and even if it is substantial rehabilitation.
A dwelling unit includes:
• A single-family unit in buildings with four or more units
• An apartment
• A room in which people sleep even if they share kitchens or bathrooms, like transitional housing
The design and construction requirements apply to "covered multifamily dwellings". Covered multifamily dwellings are:
1. All dwelling units in buildings containing four or more dwelling units if the buildings have one or more elevators AND
2. All ground floor units in other buildings containing four or more units, without an elevator.
This includes housing that is for rental or for sale and applies whether the housing is privately or publicly funded.
Condominiums and apartment buildings are covered by the design and construction requirements. So are time-shares, dormitories, transitional housing, homeless shelters that are used as a residence, student housing, assisted living housing, and others.
What are the ten "safe harbors" for compliance with the Fair Housing Act and where I can I find them?
HUD recognizes ten safe harbors for compliance with the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements. They are:
1. HUD Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines published on March 6, 1991 and the Supplemental Notice to Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines: Questions and Answers about the Guidelines, published on June 28, 1994.
2. HUD Fair Housing Act Design Manual
3. ANSI A117.1 (1986), used with the Fair Housing Act, HUD's regulations, and the Guidelines.
4. CABO/ANSI A117.1 (1992), used with the Fair Housing Act, HUD's regulations, and the Guidelines.
5. ICC/ANSI A117.1 (1998), used with the Fair Housing Act, HUD's regulations, and the Guidelines.
6. Code Requirements for Housing Accessibility 2000 (CRHA).
7. International Building Code 2000 as amended by the 2001 Supplement to the International Codes.
8. International Building Code 2003, with one condition*.
9. ICC/ANSI A117.1 (2003) used with the Fair Housing Act, HUD's regulations, and the Guidelines
10. International Building Code 2006, with the January 31, 2007 Errata
* Effective February 28, 2005 HUD determined that the IBC 2003 is a safe harbor, conditioned upon ICC publishing and distributing a statement to jurisdictions and past and future purchasers of the 2003 IBC stating, "ICC interprets Section 1104.1, and specifically, the exception to Section 1104.1, to be read together with Section 1107.4, and that the Code requires an accessible pedestrian route from site arrival points to accessible building entrances, unless site impracticality applies. Exception 1 to Section 1107.4 is not applicable to site arrival points for any Type B dwelling units because site impracticality is addressed under Section 1107.7."
Information about these safe harbors as well as HUD’s policy with respect to their use may be found in Report of HUD Review of the Fair Housing Accessibility Requirements in the 2006 International Building Code.