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:
- All dwelling units in buildings containing four or more dwelling units if the buildings have one or more elevators AND
- 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.
Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST has been contracted by HUD to provide information, materials, and technical assistance to all relevant stakeholders about the accessibility design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act as amended in 1988. However, Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST is not responsible for enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. The information, materials, and technical assistance are intended solely as informal guidance and are neither a determination of legal responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act nor binding on any agency with enforcement responsibility under the Fair Housing Act.