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Multifamily developers face steep costs for violating Fair Housing Act

Designers without previous multifamily experience could overlook key provisions.

March 07, 2016 |
Multi-family developers face steep costs for violating Fair Housing Act

Photo: Jazz Guy/Creative Commons

Improper designs in violation of the Fair Housing Act caused developer Glenwood Management to accept $950,000 in fines in a settlement with the Manhattan U.S. attorney in February.

Prosecutors said at least three of Glenwood’s buildings have scores of inaccessible features, such as thresholds and mailboxes out of reach of those in wheelchairs. The settlement also requires Glenwood to retrofit buildings to bring them into compliance with FHA rules and inspect six other structures for possible violations.

While these types of violations are rare, particularly when experienced architects and engineers are involved, the complexity of FHA and other regulations make it risky for developers to hire newbies, some designers say. A New Jersey architect told Construction Dive that if the architect or engineer doesn’t come from a background of designing multifamily housing, some of the requirements could be overlooked. 

Accessibility regulations are particularly complex, governing several building attributes such as entrances, common areas, doors, kitchens, and bathrooms.

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