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A New Framework for Evaluating the Fair Housing Amendments Act's "Direct Threat" Cases

By Liam Garland

Landlords, citing exception to the Federal Housing Amendments Act’s reasonable accommodation requirement, may refuse to accommodate tenants with disabilities when the tenant has a serious lease violation and the tenant’s actions are a “direct threat” to the health and safety of others even if such actions are attributable to the tenant’s disability. Relevant court decisions are fact-specific, and generalizing about them is difficult. A new framework harmonizes court decisions to guide the advocate in evaluating direct threat cases. Advocates should focus not on past tenant actions but on post-lease-violations or posttermination actions that would ensure future lease compliance.

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