New guidance released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Justice reinforces the Fair Housing Act requirement that multifamily housing be designed and constructed so as to be accessible to persons with disabilities.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on disability, race, color, national origin, religion, sex and familial status. The Fair Housing Act also requires that multifamily housing with four or more units, built for first occupancy after March 1991, contain accessible features for persons with disabilities.

The new guidance is designed to help design professionals, developers and builders better understand their obligations and help persons with disabilities better understand their rights regarding the “design and construction” requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act.

“Everyone who is involved in designing and building multifamily housing must ensure that the required accessible features are present so that people with disabilities can use and enjoy their homes,” said Eric Halperin, Senior Counsel and Special Counsel for Fair Lending in the Civil Rights Division.  “This guidance will help design professionals and builders understand their obligations under this important component of the Fair Housing Act.”