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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 18. Professional and Occupational Licensing
Agency 135. Real Estate Board
Chapter 50. Fair Housing Regulations
1/21/2020

18VAC135-50-200. General Prohibitions Against Discrimination Because of Handicap.

A. Definitions. As used in this section unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context:

"Accessible," when used with respect to the public and common use areas of a building containing covered multi-family dwellings, means that the public or common use areas of the building can be approached, entered, and used by individuals with physical disabilities. The phrase "readily accessible to and usable by" is synonymous with "accessible." A public or common use area that complies with the appropriate requirements of ANSI A117.1-1986 or with any other standards adopted as part of regulations promulgated by HUD at 24 CFR Part 100 providing accessibility and usability for physically handicapped people is accessible within the meaning of this section.

"Accessible route" means a continuous unobstructed path connecting accessible elements and spaces in a building or within a site that can be negotiated by a person with a severe disability using a wheelchair and that is also safe for and usable by people with other disabilities. Interior accessible routes may include corridors, floors, ramps, elevators and lifts. Exterior accessible routes may include parking access aisles, curb ramps, walks, ramps and lifts. A route that complies with the appropriate requirements of ANSI A117.1-1986, or with any other standards adopted as part of regulations promulgated by HUD at 24 CFR Part 100, is an "accessible route."

"ANSI A117.1" means ANSI A117.1-1986, the American National Standard for buildings and facilities providing accessibility and usability for physically handicapped people, or an equivalent or stricter standard. This incorporation by reference was approved by the Director of the Federal Register in accordance with 5 USC § 552(a) and 1 CFR Part 51. Copies may be obtained from Global Engineering Documents, 15 Inverness Way East, Englewood, Colorado 90112.

"Building" means a structure, facility or portion thereof that contains or serves one or more dwelling units.

"Building entrance on an accessible route" means an accessible entrance to a building that is connected by an accessible route to public transportation stops, to accessible parking and passenger loading zones, or to public streets or sidewalks, if available. A building entrance that complies with ANSI A117.1 or a comparable standard complies with the requirements of this paragraph.

"Common use areas" shall include, but not be limited to, rooms, spaces, or elements inside or outside of a building which are not part of the dwelling unit and which are made available for the use of residents of a building or the guests thereof. These areas include hallways, lounges, lobbies, laundry rooms, refuse rooms, mailrooms, recreational areas and passageways among and between buildings.

"Controlled substance" means any drug or other substance as defined in Virginia or federal law.

"Disability" or "disabled" means, and is synonymous with, the term "handicap" as defined in the Virginia Fair Housing Law.

"Dwelling unit" means a single unit of residence for a family or one or more persons. Examples of dwelling units include: a single family home; an apartment unit within an apartment building; and in other types of dwellings in which sleeping accommodations are provided but toileting or cooking facilities are shared by occupants of more than one room or portion of the dwelling, rooms in which people sleep. Examples of the latter include dormitory rooms and sleeping accommodations in shelters intended for occupancy as a residence for homeless persons.

"Entrance" means any access point to a building or portion of a building used by residents for the purpose of entering.

"Exterior" means all areas of the premises outside of an individual dwelling unit.

"First occupancy" means a building that has never before been used for any purpose.

"Ground floor" means a floor of a building with a building entrance on an accessible route. A building may have more than one ground floor.

The following terms, as used in the definition of "handicap" contained in § 36-96.1:1 of the Code of Virginia, shall mean:

"Has a record of such an impairment" means has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

"Is regarded as having an impairment" means:

1. Has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit one or more major life activities but that is treated by another person as constituting such a limitation;

2. Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of other toward such impairment; or

3. Has none of the impairments defined in "physical or mental impairment" but is treated by another person as having such an impairment.

"Interior" means the spaces, parts, components or elements of an individual dwelling unit.

"Major life activities" means functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

"Modification" means any change to the public or common use areas of a building or any change to a dwelling unit.

"Physical or mental impairment" includes:

1. Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or

2. Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The term "physical or mental impairment" includes, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection, mental retardation, emotional illness, drug addiction (other than addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance) and alcoholism.

"Premises" means the interior or exterior spaces, parts, components or elements of a building, including individual dwelling units and the public and common use areas of a building.

"Public use areas" means interior or exterior rooms or spaces of a building that are made available to the general public. Public use may be provided at a building that is privately or publicly owned.

"Site" means a parcel of land bounded by a property line or a designated portion of a public right of way.

B. General prohibitions against discrimination because of handicap. It shall be unlawful to make an inquiry to determine whether an applicant for a dwelling, a person intending to reside in that dwelling after it is so sold, rented or made available, or any person associated with that person, has a handicap or to make inquiry as to the nature or severity of a handicap of such a person. However, this subdivision does not prohibit the following inquiries, provided these inquiries are made of all applicants, whether or not they have handicaps:

1. Inquiry into an applicant's ability to meet the requirements of ownership or tenancy;

2. Inquiry to determine whether an applicant is qualified for a dwelling available only to persons with handicaps or to persons with a particular type of handicap;

3. Inquiry to determine whether an applicant for a dwelling is qualified for a priority available to persons with handicaps or to persons with a particular type of handicap;

4. Inquiring whether an applicant for a dwelling is a current illegal abuser or addict of a controlled substance;

5. Inquiring whether an applicant has been convicted of the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance.

C. Reasonable modifications of existing premises.

1. It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to permit, at the expense of a handicapped person, reasonable modifications of existing premises, occupied or to be occupied by a handicapped person, if the proposed modifications may be necessary to afford the handicapped person full enjoyment of the premises of a dwelling. In the case of a rental, the landlord may, where it is reasonable to do so, condition permission for a modification on the renter agreeing to restore the interior of the premises to the condition that existed before the modification, reasonable wear and tear excepted. The landlord may not increase for handicapped persons any customarily required security deposit. However, where it is necessary in order to ensure with reasonable certainty that funds will be available to pay for the restorations at the end of the tenancy, the landlord may negotiate as part of such a restoration agreement a provision requiring that the tenant pay into an interest bearing escrow account, over a reasonable period, a reasonable amount of money not to exceed the cost of the restorations. The interest in any such account shall accrue to the benefit of the tenant.

2. A landlord may condition permission for a modification on the renter providing a reasonable description of the proposed modifications as well as reasonable assurances that the work will be done in a workmanlike manner and that any required building permits will be obtained.

3. Except as otherwise provided, the Joint Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice "Reasonable Modifications under the Fair Housing Act" dated March 5, 2008, is hereby incorporated by reference to provide guidance regarding the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities and housing providers relating to reasonable modifications. A copy of the joint statement may be obtained from the Virginia Fair Housing Office.

D. Reasonable accommodations.

1. It shall be unlawful for any person to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a handicapped person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit, including public and common use areas.

2. Except as otherwise provided, the Joint Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice "Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act" dated May 17, 2004, is hereby incorporated by reference to provide guidance regarding the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities and housing providers relating to reasonable accommodations. A copy of this joint statement may also be obtained from the Virginia Fair Housing Office.

E. Design and construction requirements. Covered multi-family dwellings for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, shall be designed and constructed to have at least one building entrance on an accessible route unless it is impractical to do so because of the terrain or unusual characteristics of the site. The burden of establishing impracticality because of terrain or unusual site characteristics is on the person or persons who designed or constructed the housing facility.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.8 and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia; 42 USC § 3613.  

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 2.14, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003; Volume 30, Issue 11, eff. March 1, 2014.

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